If you felt like this past February was unusually warm, you’re absolutely right. It was, in fact, the warmest February ever recorded on Earth.The data regarding this year’s unusually warm February was recently released by NASA. NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies began keeping records of each month’s temperature across the globe in 1880 — and February 2016 tops the charts.
February’s global temperature was found to be 1.35 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1951–1980 average. Interestingly, the previous record was set just a month prior, in January of 2016, which was found to be 1.13 degrees warmer than the 1951–1980 average.
According to NASA data, the last five months — October 2015 to February 2016 — were the “five largest monthly global warm anomalies” in the entire NASA database.
So, should we be worried? The answer many specialists in this field give is “yes.”
Professor Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research in Germany stated:
“We are in a kind of climate emergency now. This is really quite stunning… it’s completely unprecedented.”
Bob Henson and Jeff Masters of Weather Underground reported:
“Nasa dropped a bombshell of a climate report. February dispensed with the one-month-old record by a full 0.21C — an extraordinary margin to beat a monthly world temperature record by.”
During the UN climate summit in Paris, France this past December, it was agreed that two degrees Celsius was a “danger limit for global warming,” and that this rise in global temperatures “should not be passed.” However, we are getting dangerously close.
Looking at individual regions, the temperature rise in some places has been even higher. In parts of Russia, eastern Europe, Scandinavia, western and central Canada, and Alaska, some temperatures were four or more degrees above the February averages.
In parts of the US, central Europe, southwest Asia, and parts of Africa (to name just a few of the various affected regions) temperatures were two or more degrees above the February averages, due to the powerful presence of El Niño this year.
On this disturbing trend, the Weather.com news team wrote:
“Climate scientists emphasize that whether a given month is a fraction of a degree warmer or cooler than a previous month isn’t as important as the long-term, overall trend. And that trend of warm anomalies over the past year or so has become disconcerting, not simply due to the record-tying strong El Niño, but also the degree of higher northern latitude warming.”
Bob Ward, the policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, summarized:
“These results suggest that we may be even closer than we realised to breaching the [2°C] limit. We have used up all of our room for manoeuvre. If we delay any longer strong cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, it looks like global mean surface temperature is likely to exceed the level beyond which the impacts of climate change are likely to be very dangerous.”
It seems that we indeed have cause for concern, especially if the warming trend continues. In response to increasing climate change concerns, many parts of the world are transitioning to greener energy and embracing green transportation methods. However, are we as a planet acting quickly enough?
Tanya is a writer at The Alternative Daily with a passion for meditation, music, poetry, and overall creative and active living. She has a special interest in exploring traditional Eastern remedies and superfoods from around the globe, and enjoys spending time immersed in nature.