Climate experts have warned that the planet’s record-breaking heat streak is likely to persist all through the summer after March 2016 marked the hottest ever month recorded in over a century. These sizzling March temperatures meant that the planet, having experienced its 11th consecutive record-shattering month, will probably see the worst ever climate change-driven “heat-hit” summers in a long time.
Last month, the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) had released record temperatures for February with readings confirming that the average temperatures across land and sea had exceeded far above the 20th century average. Unsurprisingly, prior to January and February of this year, the previous all-time high monthly temperatures were recorded in December 2015, with February surpassing it by 0.16 degrees.
According to NOAA, this chain of record-setting months is the longest in nearly 140 years of record-keeping given that formal records of modern readings have been preserved since 1880. February 2016 also marked the tenth straight month that a monthly global temperature record has been surpassed by a staggering margin. March 2016’s unrelenting sizzle confirms that the planet has now seen 11 “record” scorching months in succession, which for experts is a frightening sign of things to come.
Climate change takes effect over the period of many years and sometimes even decades. However, the planet in recent times has witnessed an unprecedented surge in average temperatures with spikes in mercury setting a rather disturbing precedent for the planet’s future. According to NOAA’s Centers For Environment Information, the seven highest ever monthly global ocean temperature readings have also been recorded during the past seven months alone.
“This was the highest for March in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.54°F. March 2016 was also the highest monthly temperature departure among all months on record, at 0.02°F higher than the previous record set just last month. This also marks the 11th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken, the longest such streak in the 137-year record.”
Already the northern hemisphere has seen one of climate change’s first ever onslaught on Greenland’s ice cover with a record 12 percent of it covered by meltwater. The seemingly upward trend observed around the Antarctic recently looks almost insignificant in magnitude compared to the prodigious loss of sea ice in the Arctic zone. Together, the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, with 14 million square kilometers and 1.7 million kilometers respectively, constitute nearly 100 percent of the planet’s freshwater ice.
According to NOAA, the average Arctic sea ice extent recorded for March this year was over 7 percent less than the 1981–2010 average with March, marking the second lowest recorded extent since records began over 30 years ago. These figures easily surpass 2015’s record statistics. As of March 24, the maximum Arctic sea ice extent recorded was the lowest ever annual maximum extent of all time.
The U.N. climate summit in Paris last year had aimed to restrict planetary warming to a 1.5- degree Celsius increase over “pre-industrial” temperatures. However, most climate scientists have argued that temperatures persisting at such abnormally elevated levels would only propel the planet’s climate towards the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold far more rapidly, a largely looming scenario the world community would be hoping not to experience. According to Potsdam University Professor Stefan Rahmstorf, despite other factors, humans are the foremost instigators of this inexplicably rapid climate deterioration.
“While the current spike in global temperatures is getting a boost from El Niño, most of this anomalous warmth is a result of the ongoing human-caused global warming trend,”
Scientists from the University of Queensland and Griffith University had earlier engineered a “global energy tracker” predicting that average world temperatures could climb 1.5-degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels in less than five years and subsequently advance towards a 2-degree Celsius rise in less than 10.
The five-year period between 2011 to 2015 is now the hottest period ever observed. The first three months of 2016 have already leaped past previously set heat records with the rest of the year already shaping up to unleash excruciating hot summer months. Scientists are now beginning to view such extended periods of highly intense record-breaking global temperatures as an increasingly irreversible long-term phenomena.
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