March 2016: Warmest Ever

Near The Top
A small pool of water in an otherwise arid climate. Llano County, Texas.
(Copyright © 2015 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

According to data just released by NASA, March 2016 was the hottest March on record, breaking the record set just last year (or March 2010, depending on which dataset one uses).

It’s also the 11th consecutive month to break a monthly record, the only time that’s ever happened. (The previous streak was 10 months, back in the 1940s.)

“The succession of temperature records has also been accompanied by other notable climate records, including the biggest ever year-to-year jump in carbon dioxide levels at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, as well as a record low winter Arctic sea ice peak. The Arctic, in fact, has been one of the most anomalously warm areas of the planet over the past year and is warming at twice the rate of the planet as a whole.”

Scientists in the UK are already predicting that 2016 will break the hottest-year record, which was set just last year, and previously in 2014.

“Climate change is usually assessed over years and decades, but even scientists have been struck by the recent unprecedented temperatures…

Prof Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University in the U.S., responded to the March data by saying: ‘Wow. I continue to be shocked by what we are seeing.’ He said the world had now been hovering close to the threshold of ‘dangerous’ warming for two months, something not seen before.

‘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.’ ”

This is also a great time to remind readers that there is still no scientific debate over anthropogenic global warming: “an overwhelming majority of climate experts agree on the issue”.

“When defining experts as scientists who actually study and publish on climate change — the people who are best qualified to take a position on the subject, in other words — the surveys consistently find consensus rates well above 90 percent…

In fact, he [John Cook] added, the growing number of papers that express no explicit position on anthropogenic climate change is an indicator that the issue is past the point where its discussion is necessary.

‘As a consensus gets stronger, you expect to see less and less papers stating a position on it — because it’s a consensus, you don’t really need to reaffirm what everyone knows’, Cook said. ‘It would be like every astronomy paper affirming that the Earth revolves around the sun.’ ”

Yet among the public (in the U.S.) most seem doubtful of any of these facts, especially Republicans, among whom 68% believe scientists are “exaggerating”. Fortunately, this is changing, but slowly. Worldwide, note that it is primarily the U.S. and China, the two nations with the most consumption by far, where the public doubts the science. The Middle East, where much of the world’s fossil fuels come from, is also a strong holdout for denialism on global warming. This is not a coincidence.

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Locally (Killeen, Texas), March 2016 was the second-warmest March on record, barely behind 2012, and warmer than some Aprils of the past few years.

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