NASA has released a report that Earth just experienced the hottest first quarter (January to March) ever on record. The previous record (which was held by 2015) was beaten by 0.7°F (0.39°C). Historically, such records spanning months are broken by mere hundredths of a degree.
This really shouldn’t be too surprising, however. Just look at the trend our planet is going through:
- March 2016 was the hottest March on record
- February 2016 was the hottest February on record
- January 2016 was the hottest January on record
- December 2015 was the hottest December on record
- November 2015 was the hottest November on record
- October 2015 was the hottest October on record
Can you see the pattern?
2015 was our hottest year ever, having beaten 2014. But at this rate as the El Niño e’ve been experiencing gradually disappears, we can anticipate that 2016 will beat the record yet again. But it’s not all due to the El Niño because the records being broken are blowing the previous El Niño years out of the water. The underlying trend of a warming planet is undeniable. El Niño is simply icing on the cake.
Now if only we would do something about it.
“Confidence continues to grow that this El Niño will be one of the stronger El Niños over the past 50 years.”
—Brett Anderson, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist
Last week NASA reported that last month tied for the hottest June we’ve ever recorded matching the record set in 1998. Now that 2015 is half over, with no many broken records this year already it’s pretty much a given that we’re currently in what will be the hottest year ever. Why so certain? Because the El Niño our planet is experiencing is one of the strongest we’ve seen in a half century, adding to an existing trend of global warming, and is only getting stronger.
It turns out there’s more than an 85 percent chance that this current El Niño we’re in will last until next May because they usually peak somewhere between December and February. If so, 2016 may in fact well beat the 2015 record-breaker we’re headed towards.
And you can already predict what will happen when this El Niño ends and this annual record-breaking Hottest Year Ever trend is over: deniers will start to claim that global warming is over and that the mini-ice age some are predicting is starting.
But you and I won’t be fooled when that happens.
Despite cooler temperatures in the eastern half of North America that continue, this was still the hottest March globally that we’ve ever recorded, making it also the hottest year to date ever. It’s far too early to predict for sure, but 2015 will beat 2014 for the all-time record if this trend continues. This is all according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA’s latest monthly report highlights some of the key findings:
- March 2015 was the hottest March in their 135-year of keeping accurate records, beating “the previous record of 2010 by 0.09°F (0.05°C).”
- January-to-March was the hottest first quarter of any year on record, beating “the previous record of 2002 by 0.09°F.”
- Arctic sea ice hit its smallest March extent since satellite records began in 1979.
The human-caused global warming trend that made 2014 the hottest year on record is unfortunately continuing. So make no mistake: it’s becoming much more likely that 2015 will be the hottest year we’ve ever recorded. An El Niño year like the one we’re now in helps to break temperature records—that’s the main reason 1998 was such an outlier year—because the short-term El Niño effects are simply superimposed on the already present long-term global warming trend. NOAA predicts we have a 60 percent chance that the current El Niño our planet is experiencing will last all year long rather than just a few months. If so, don’t be surprised if 2015 doesn’t just beat the 2014 record.
It will smash it to pieces.
“The last 12 months have been the hottest 12 months ever recorded. So far, this February is much hotter than last year’s. This means that in a month, we will again break the all time record. These records just keep falling.”
—climate expert Professor John Abraham
Brrrrrrrrrr! It’s frigging cold where I live, north of Toronto!
So it’s hard to believe that January was the second hottest January on record (after January 2007) according to NASA. Even more importantly, February 2014 to January 2015 was the hottest twelve consecutive months we’ve ever recorded. Looking at the last twelve months—even month to month—provides more useful information rather than waiting for each calendar year to be over. This way we get to see the gradual rise in temperature over time.
Yes, lately it’s been cold where I live, as well as for everyone living in the eastern half to the U.S. (as the blue in the diagram illustrates). But guess what! It’s been hot almost everywhere else. Not just the rest of the North American continent, but in fact the rest of the whole planet. Large portions of North America and Asia have been experiencing temperatures that are off the charts for January.
And don’t forget what makes these recent records all the more remarkable: our planet is breaking global temperature records without an El Niño’s contribution. (That’s what helped 1998 to be such an outlier year, something that deniers continue to argue as evidence that global warming stopped.) If we get an El Niño warming pattern anytime in the near future, our global temperatures will reach heights that no human being has ever witnessed.
If 2015 is an El Niño year, it is likely to break the record for the hottest year ever, but even without one the trend has been such that a record may be inevitable anyway. Thanks to the fact that we have pushed atmospheric carbon dioxide to levels not seen for millions of years, we can count on continuing to break both annual and monthly temperature records on a regular basis for years to come.
“It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”
For those of us grumbling about how chilly August was, it can be difficult to remember that we’re only one tiny patch of the entire planet. Whenever local temperatures seem extreme on either end, even I have to remind myself that it’s what’s happening globally that counts.
So what happened for the month of August globally while Ontario Canada seemed unusually cool? Despite our local experience, last month was still the warmest August globally since accurate records began back in 1880, this according to NASA. The globe just keeps warming (just not in my backyard…yet!)
What surprised me a bit about the data is that what I perceived as a cool August was really just closer to the normal average temperatures as defined by the period 1951-1980. Seems I got used to the “new normal” just like everyone else has.
So where were the extremes? Continue reading