Climate warming continues, aided by El Niño.
February 2016 has been recorded as the warmest February in 136 years, since record keeping began, and it has climate scientists shocked not only at the increase, but by the amount of the temperature spike.
From a story in the Washington Post, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) just released the data over the weekend, and their instruments recorded an 2.43 degree Fahrenheit rise above the 1951-1980 average, making it the warmest February, and not by just a little.
Climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a tweet he normally did not comment on monthly temperature swings, but February’s numbers were “special.” Schmidt added “Wow” to his tweet as well.
Although most scientists believe 2016 will end up as the warmest year on record as well, they are trying to remain reserved in their predictions. Deke Arndt, climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a conversation with Tom Yuslman of Discovery, as a public servant and as a scientist, they were a pretty conservative lot, and they really did not want to say so officially until they were 100 percent sure of the outcome.
The warming temperatures are attributed to the long-term climate warming trend, but a record-challenging El Niño event that is dumping large amounts of heat from the tropical Pacific into the atmosphere, is adding fuel to the fire, so to speak. This combination of events allowed this February to eclipse the previous record holder, February, 1998, by 0.85 degrees Fahrenheit. The spike in 1998 was also aided by an El Niño event, but this year’s began with a higher starting base due to several years of steadily rising temps.
Land areas were particularly warmer, with the Arctic recording almost an 11 degree F temperature above normal, and sea ice was also at a record low for the month.
The record high temperatures were also confirmed by two other sources, from the Japan Meteorological Agency, and the University of Alabama-Huntsville’s estimate of lower atmospheric temperatures.
Scientists expect the warming to reverse, either late this year or in 2017, as the effects of the El Niño event are replaced by a La Niña event, which will have a cooling effect on the planetary temperatures.