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Map: Land and ocean temperature departure from average for March 2016.  (NOAA NCEI)

The 'Absolutely Disturbing' New Normal: Earth Just Smashed Another Climate Record

'Global temperature records are piling up,' says NOAA

Andrea Germanos

Our ever-warming planet just passed another climate record.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Tuesday that March 2016 was the warmest March since records began in 1880.

It also marked an 11-month of streak of record-breaking global temperatures.

And at 1.22°C (2.20°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F), March 2016 distinguished itself from all 1,635 months on record by having the highest monthly temperature departure. Meteorologists Jeff Masters and Bob Henson wrote, "This is a huge margin for breaking a monthly global temperature record, as they are typically broken by just a few hundredths of a degree. The margin was just a shade larger than NOAA's previous record for any month of 1.21°C (2.18°F) above average, set in February 2016."

NOAA itself noted that "global temperature records are piling up," and said it announced the record warm month "[a]t the risk of sounding like a broken record."

From the Associated Press:

"It's becoming monotonous in a way," said Jason Furtado, a meteorology professor at the University of Oklahoma. "It's absolutely disturbing ... We're losing critical elements of our climate system."

David Karoly, a climate researcher at Melbourne University, told the Sydney Morning Herald, "The extreme temperatures and extreme events, including the coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef, are indications that climate change is already happening with worse things in store."

When the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) announced its finding last week that March 2016 was the warmest since at least 1891, Michael Mann, a climate scientist and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, said the data offered "a reminder of how perilously close we now are to permanently crossing into dangerous territory," and added, "It underscores the urgency of reducing global carbon emissions."

The Washington Post similarly noted Wednesday that, since December when the global talks known as COP21 ended with a carbon emissions-slashing deal, "a drumbeat of grim scientific findings has underscored that staving off the worst consequences of global warming may take far more aggressive actions."

Indeed, a new analysis shows that even if countries implement their pledges laid out in the deal, which is expected to be signed by over 150 nations on Friday, it would result in expected warming by 2100 of 3.5°C (6.3°F)—far past the consensus threshold.

"The fossil fuel industry is pushing our climate to the brink faster than anyone expected, as record temperatures are proving, along with extreme weather related events," said 350.org executive director May Boeve. "We are all at risk from a warming planet, so we are left with no choice but to scale up nonviolent direct action."


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