temperatures leapt in February, lifting warming from pre-industrial
levels to beyond 1.5 degrees, and stoking concerns about a "climate
to NASA analysis, average temperatures last month were 1.35 degrees
above the norm for the 1951-1980 period.
smashed the previous biggest departure from the average - set only in
the previous month - by 0.21 degrees.
is really quite stunning ... it's completely unprecedented,"
said Stefan Rahmstorf, from Germany's Potsdam Institute of Climate
Impact Research and a visiting professorial fellow at the University
of NSW, noting the NASA data as reported bythe
blog's authors, Jeff Masters and Bob Henson, described February's
spike as "a true shocker, and yet another reminder of the
incessant long-term rise in global temperature resulting from
human-produced greenhouse gases".
monster El Nino event had contributed to the current record run of
global temperatures by increasing the area of abnormally warm water
in the central and eastern Pacific.
with the rival record giant El Nino of 1997-98, global temperatures
are running about 0.5 degrees hotter.
shows how much much global warming we have had since then,"
Professor Rahmstorf said.
first half of March is at least as warm, he added, and it means
temperatures "are clearly more than 1.5 degrees above
most northerly latitudes of the planet were the most abnormally hot
regions in February, with large areas reporting temperatures 12
degrees or warmer than average, the NASA data shows.
unusual heat in the far north means the Arctic sea ice will be
thinner and more vulnerable to melting as the region heads into the
warmer months, Professor Rahmstorf said.
sea ice is already at its smallest extent for this time of year on
record. The relatively warm seas are contributing to a warmer
atmosphere, reinforcing the long-term trend.
the Wunderground blog noted, the impacts of the unusual global heat
have been felt far and wide, including in severe droughts in Vietnam
meanwhile, continues work to recover from Cyclone Winston, the most
powerful storm recorded in the southern hemisphere.
warming] is not harmless," Professor Rahmstorf said. "It
has quite a negative impact on society and the biosphere."
may also see some of that impact in coming weeks, with a large region
of the Great Barrier Reef under threat from coral bleaching,
according to the latest data from the US National Ocean and
February's global heat spike is unlikely to be sustained as the El
Nino winds down, the latest indicators "are all symptoms of the
general warming trend", Professor Rahmstorf said.