Sunday 17 April 2016

Record March temperatures in the media

It on't make it onto CNN or Fox News but  there have been quite a few headlines.

Greenland’s Ice Sheet Is Melting So Fast Right Now, Scientists Thought It Was an Error

By Eric Holthaus

"5cf03a1e16Greenland’s melt season officially began on Monday—two months earlier than normal.     Danish Meteorological Institute

On Monday, Greenland began to melt. Parts of Greenland melt every year and the whole thing freezes again each winter, but lately, thanks to global warming, the melting has come earlier and then peaked in the summer at higher levels than usual.

Even in light of these trends, Monday’s melt was unlike anything the scientists studying Greenland have ever seen—it was so different, in fact, that they thought the data was wrong.

We had to check that our models were still working properly,” Peter Langen, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute, told Polar Portal, a Danish government website which chronicles monitoring of the ice sheet. Sure enough, thermometers on and around the ice showed temperatures as high as 64 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday—more than 35 degrees warmer than normal for this time of year, and more typical of a warm day in July.

That’s… extraordinary. That freakish blue spike on the graph at the top of the page shows the fraction of the total Greenland ice sheet that melted this time around compared to the average numbers. It’s clear that, at least in recent history, nothing like Monday’s warm spell has ever happened before. Danish temperature recordsaround the coast of Greenland dating back to 1873 confirm this. The previous earliest start to the Greenland melt season, defined as the first day there is an area of melt greater than 10 percent of the total ice sheet's surface, was on May 5, 2010. Monday’s melt covered 12 percent of the ice sheet's surface area, and is similar, meteorologically speaking, to an event in July 2012 that resulted in some similarly iconic satellite imagery.* Here’s this week’s map, demonstrating the high temperatures:

Wthr_Anom_SM_EN_20160412Five-day average temperatures over Greenland have been about 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal this week, with daily temperatures exceeding 20 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal.
Danish Meteorological Institute

There is one likely potential meteorological explanation for the abnormal melt. Strong southerly winds over the past few days have brought a surge of moisture and warmth from the warmer than normal Atlantic, leading to a period of unseasonable rain on top of the ice. A recent study by Greenland scientist Jason Box showed that, for lower elevations of the ice sheet, this might lead to especially fast melting, which is exactly what seems to have happened.

That doesn’t make it any less bizarre. According to Mike MacFerrin, a University of Colorado climate scientist, “melt in Greenland, over this wide an area, this early in the season, is not supposed to happen.” The World Meteorological Organization, on Twitter, called the melt “too much, too early.”

"I'm in Kangerlussuaq now...crazy warm, lots of water in river, +16 C at Old Camp in the shade" from Trevor Popp in West Greenland

another Greenlandic friend "Nuuk is close to drowning in water, caused by rain and melted snow"

Glacier meltwater turns into raging river in Kangerlussuaq Greenland, where we gathered to prep for

So far for the climate system, 2016 has been a year unlike any other, especially in the Arctic, where this winter has been a blockbuster one for dwindling ice. El Niño may be playing a role, but for the most unusually warm temperatures on the planet to be concentrated in the Arctic is a hallmark signal of human-caused climate change. To be clear, this specific melt event in Greenland will likely only last until Thursday or Friday, when temperatures there (at least for awhile) should dip back below freezing.

Much warmer than normal temperatures for months on end have meant that for much of the frozen north, there essentially wasn’t a winter this year. In late December, parts of the Arctic were briefly warmer than Texas, southern California, and the Sahara. All across the Arctic, temperatures have shattered records and are causing scientists to scratch their heads.

continues to accumulate negative freezing degree day surface anomalies and fall more & more below the chart

The Arctic is in crisis,” said Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado in a recent summary of this winter’s unusually warm weather. “Year by year, it’s slipping into a new state.”

Taken together, all this evidence—Greenland’s ice melt, dwindling snow cover, melting permafrost, shrinking sea ice, and the worrying cold patch of ocean near Iceland—points in one direction: The Arctic as we’ve known it may be quickly shifting into a new, warmer reality.

It’s unraveling, every piece of it is unraveling, they’re all in lockstep together,” Rafe Pomerance, a former deputy assistant secretary of state who sits on the National Academy of Sciences’ Polar Research Board, recently told the Washington Post.

The implications of this sudden shift are still being worked out, but climate scientist James Hansen’s recent study provides a preview: We can look forward to faster sea level rise, stronger storms, and even a potential destabilization of global governance, should greenhouse gas emissions continue essentially unchecked. Of course, this week’s melt event in Greenland is just a single additional data point in this trove of evidence, but it’s a dramatic one. What we’re doing is not going unnoticed in the most vulnerable parts of the climate system, like the Arctic.

March 2016 Was Hottest on Record by Greatest Margin Yet Seen for Any Month

16 April, 2-16

Earth is on a roll.

Adding “yet another month to a new mountain chain of extreme global temperature peaks,” March 2016 was the warmest since at least 1891, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

"One stunning feature from the March 2016 temperature map was just how universally warm the month was," writes NOAA scientist. Photo credit: fuzzytractor/flickr/cc)“One stunning feature from the March 2016 temperature map was just how universally warm the month was,” writes NOAA scientist. Photo credit: fuzzytractor/flickr/cc)

Not only that, but, as February did, March broke the previous record by the greatest margin yet seen for any month. Compared to the 20th-century average, March was 1.07°C hotter across the globe, according to the JMA figures, while February was 1.04°C higher.

If April also sets a monthly record—and there’s no reason to think it won’t—”the Earth will have had an astonishing 12 month string of record-shattering months,” writes Andrew Freedman for Mashable.
Graph: Japan Meteorological AgencyGraph: Japan Meteorological Agency

The JMA’s findings are likely to be confirmed by forthcoming reports from the UK Met Office as well as NASA and NOAA, whose satellite data indicates last month was the warmest March in records dating to 1979.

Scientists have pinned the record warmth to a combination of human-caused climate changeand this year’s strong El Niño event.

Responding to the news, professor Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University,told the Guardian: “Wow. I continue to be shocked by what we are seeing.”

The [new data] is a reminder of how perilously close we now are to permanently crossing into dangerous territory,” Mann said. “It underscores the urgency of reducing global carbon emissions.”

As Common Dreams reported, last month’s NASA data showed that February 2016 was not only the hottest in recorded history, but it soared past all previous records, prompting scientists to describe the announcement as “an ominous milestone in our march toward an ever-warmer planet.”

Meanwhile, NOAA said last week that March 2016 was among the warmest on record for the contiguous United States, and that Alaska had seen “its warmest start to the year on record, while 32 states across the West, Great Plains, Midwest and Northeast were much warmer than average” between January and March.

What’s more, pointed out NOAA climatologist Deke Arndt in a blog post this week, “If you were alive during March 2016, and I’m betting you were, you witnessed U.S. history.”

One stunning feature from the March 2016 temperature map was just how universally warm the month was,” wrote Arndt. “Every one of the 357 climate divisions across the contiguous United States and Alaska ended up—at least—in the ‘warmer than normal’ category.”

We Just Crushed The Global Record For

Hottest Start Of Any Year



NASA reports that this was the hottest three-month start (January to March) of any year on record. It beat the previous record — just set in 2015 — by a stunning 0.7°F (0.39°C). Normally, such multi-month records are measured in the hundredths of a degree

Last month was the hottest February on record by far. It followed the hottest January on record by far, which followed the hottest December by far, which followed the hottest November on record by far, which followed the hottest October on record by far. Some may detect a pattern here.

NASA's March temperature data was released Friday, showing that it was the planet's second-most unusually mild month on record, only somewhat cooler than February 2016. 

The NASA data shows the monthly global average temperature was 1.28 degrees Celsius, or 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit, above the 20th century average. 

According to NASA, six straight months from 2015 into 2016 have had a temperature anomaly of at least 1 degree Celsius. That had not happened in any month prior to this record warm stretch.

Data released on Thursday shows that March 2016 was the warmest March since at least 1891, making it the planet's 11th consecutive month to set a global temperature milestone.

Global average surface temperature anomalies for March 2016.  IMAGE: NASA

The data, from the Japan Meteorological Agency, as well as a separate analysis using computer model data, means that if April also sets a monthly record, the Earth will have had an astonishing 12 month string of record-shattering months.

Other agencies will soon weigh in with their own analysis of March's temperatures, including NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the UK Met Office, and their figures may differ slightly in ranking the month compared to the historical record. 

The cause of the record warmth, scientists say, is a combination of a record strong El Niño event in the tropical Pacific Ocean and the increasingly apparent effects of long-term human-caused global warming. 

The world was already setting more and more warm temperature records without the El Niño's assistance, but what El Niño has done was dial up the already elevated temperatures to damaging levels.

Right now, scientists around the world are witnessing the effects of this global fever. These include the third and longest-lasting global coral bleaching event, which is harming — and in some cases, killing — reefs from the Great Barrier Reef to the Florida Keys. 

In the Arctic, Greenland commenced its melt season more than one month early when a freak heat wave swept in earlier this week, sending temperatures skyrocketing into the low 60s Fahrenheit in southwest Greenland and breaking records all the way to the top of the ice sheet itself, more than 10,000 feet above sea level. 

In addition, Arctic sea ice set a record for the lowest winter maximum extent, potentially setting the ice pack up for a summer melt season with a largely open Arctic Ocean, depending on transient weather conditions

And the Guardian

Average global temperature was 1.07C hotter - beating last month’s previous record increase

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