A dramatic surge in the Earth’s surface temperatures took place in February, resulting in the biggest month-on-month rise in global warming on record, according to the latest figures released by Nasa.
As global temperatures rise well above their seasonal averages, especially in the northern hemisphere, the sea ice in the Arctic continues its overall downward trajectory with a new record monthly low for a February.
Some of the temperature rise has been put down to the large El Nino event currently coming to an end in the Pacific Ocean, according to a report in The Independent (see here). But scientists repeated their warnings that the global climate system is now being strongly influenced by human emissions of greenhouse gases, especially by the rising concentrations of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.
Nasa confirmed that February 2016 was not only the warmest month ever measured globally, at 1.35C above the long-term average, but that it was more than 0.2C warmer than January 2016, which itself had held the previous monthly temperature record.
The US National Snow and Ice Data Centre reported that the sea ice in the Arctic in February had once again failed to reform completely, leaving large patches of open ocean which in previous years had been topped with ice.
The extent of the sea ice in February was the lowest in the satellite record going back to the 1970s, for the second month in a row. This suggests a new record for winter sea ice will be reached in March – underling how higher temperatures are affecting both Arctic winters as well as summers.
European researchers, under the Copernicus Climate Service, using a slightly different method of analysing the surface temperature data than Nasa, also found that February 2016 was by far the warmest month on record.
It found for instance that February was more than 5C above the 1981-2010 average for the month over a region stretching from Finland to Greece and extending eastwards to western Siberia, Kazakhstan and the northern part of the Middle East. In parts of north-west Russia and the Barents Sea, temperatures peaked at more than 10C above average.