February global temperature shocker: time to talk climate emergency

March 15, 2016 at 12:22 am Leave a comment


Welcome to the endless Australian summer of 2016, where on March 2nd Australia set a new area average maximum temperature record of over 38C for March. Overnight on the 9th/10th March Melbourne experienced its warmest March night on record with the lowest temperature of 27.7C at 8.45am, although much of the night temperatures hovered around 30C.


You can read more about Australia’s extraordinay Autumn heatwave in a Bureau of Meteorology special climate statement 55 (PDF) which saw a number of records broken in terms of length of the heat event at different locations, rather than peak intensity.

And now the global average temperature for February has come out. According to NASA’s analysis February ran 1.35°C (2.43°F) above the 1951-1980 global average for the month. The previous record was set in January 2016 which came in 1.14°C above the 1951-1980 average for the month. So February exceeded this one-month-old record by a full 0.21°C (0.38°F)–an extraordinary margin to beat a monthly world temperature record by. February 2016 also blitzed the previous February record — set in the 1998 “super” El Niño of a similar strength — by a massive 0.47°C (0.85°F).

Temperature trend for February 2016 was 1.35C above 1951-1980 temperature standard

Temperature trend for February 2016 was 1.35C above 1951-1980 temperature standard

From David Spratt: Mind-blowing February 2016 temperature spike a “climate emergency” says scientist, as extreme events hit Vietnam, Fiji and Zimbabwe:

“Where do you start when climate data comes out that scientists simply call “jaw dropping”, ‘alarming” and “true shocker” and “quite stunning … it’s completely unprecedented”?

“The jaw dropper is the global average temperature for February 2016, released on 11 March by the US government agency NASA. (Read more…)

With January and February setting new temperature records by substantial margins, it is very likely a step change in the temperature trend has occurred to take us to the next level. This will exacerbate extreme heat events.

Isn’t it about time we started talking climate emergency? and actually reducing emissions? Instead Australian emissions rose 1.3 per cent in 2015 and are estimated to keep rising and not peak before 2030 under current Federal Government policy.

This shows the last 20 years of monthly temperature anomalies. 2016 is off to a record start that may make 2016 much hotter than anything seen previously.

GISSTemp monthly anomaly 1996-2016

GISSTemp monthly anomaly 1996-2016

If you look at that graph above see the difference between 2016 and all other years. Compare the entries for 2016 with the purple dotted line which is 1998, the last super strong El Nino. This year will probably produce a similar trend line to 1998: a gradual drop off and plateau through winter months before a slight decrease at the end of the year. Of course, I might be too conservative in saying 2016 will follow 1998. The first half of March has already maintained a high level of average temperature, but if the trend follows a similar pattern, it means there has been a substantial step change in global warming.

Climate scientist Michael Mann expressed that for February 2016 we have already reached 2C warming above the pre-industrial average. That’s the temperature we are aiming to keep well below as enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

NASA Map of February 2016 temperature anomaly

NASA Map of February 2016 temperature anomaly

US meteorologist Eric Holthaus understands it is a climate emergency and articulates Why he is a climate change alarmist. Ben Eltham in a New Matilda article says: After A Record Breaking February Let’s Call Our Climate Policies What They Are: Treason.

Even Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders understands the situation and has called for energy and decarbonisation transition measures like the mobilisation during World War II.

Sanders: “In World War II, for example, the United States had to fight a war on two fronts in a very short period of time. Within 3 years, essentially, we had already won the war. I look at climate change almost in military terms. I look at the fact that if we do not significantly reduce carbon emissions, there is going to be massive damage done to our country and to this planet. But I have absolute confidence…”
Compare: “So you would marshal those sort of resources?”
Sanders: “I think you have got to look at it almost like a war like situation. We are being attacked, and the attack is coming from climate change. That is going to mean more extreme weather disturbances. Look at what’s going on in California in terms of drought. The CIA tells us, more international conflict as people fight over limited natural resources.”

I started out this post with the Maximum temperature anomaly for Australia on March 2, setting a new area average Maximum temperature for March. As the climate changes we are seeing more of these Extremes. The average, or mean temperature is less dramatic, but also increasing. The mean temperature anomaly for Australia for the whole month of February is below:

BOM Mean Temperature Anomaly for February 2016

BOM Mean Temperature Anomaly for February 2016

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