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Another heat record on Earth in February

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar7,2024

Another heat record on Earth in February

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Ocean surface temperatures eclipsed all months on record.

Associated Press

For a ninth consecutive month, the Earth broke heat records on a global scale: the month of February, winter as a whole and the planet's oceans set new high temperature marks, according to the European Union climate agency Copernicus.

Among the latest records broken in a global heatwave fueled by climate change, ocean surface temperatures were not only the warmest in February, they eclipsed all months on record , surpassing the August 2023 mark and continuing to increase at the end of the month.

February and the previous two winter months far exceeded the internationally established threshold for long-term warming, warned Copernicus on Wednesday.

The last month that didn't set a heat record was May 2023, just behind 2020 and 2016. Copernicus records fell steadily from June onwards.

In February 2024, the average temperature was 13.54 degrees Celsius, beating the old record from 2016 by about an eighth of a degree.

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According to Copernicus calculations, February was 1.77 degrees Celsius warmer than the end of the 19th century. Only last December was warmer than February compared to pre-industrial levels.

In the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world set a goal of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or below. The Copernicus figures are monthly and do not quite correspond to the Paris threshold measurement system, which is averaged over two or three decades. But Copernicus data shows that the last eight months, starting in July 2023, have exceeded 1.5 degrees of warming.

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A dry lake in La Sabana Metropolitan Park in San José, affected by droughts caused by the El Niño phenomenon. (File photo)

Climatologists say most of this record heat is due to human-caused climate change and carbon dioxide and methane emissions from the combustion of coal, oil and natural gas.

The extra heat comes from a natural phenomenon, El Niño, a warming of the central Pacific that is changing global weather patterns.

Given the intensity of El Niño since mid-2023, it is not surprising that global temperatures are above normal as El Niño draws heat from the Earth. x27;ocean towards the atmosphere, which increases air temperatures. But the scale of the records broken is alarming, said Jennifer Francis, a climatologist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, who was not involved in the calculations.

We also note the existence of a "hot spot" over the Arctic, where warming is much faster than across the globe, leading to a cascade of effects on fisheries, ecosystems, melting ice and changes in ocean currents, which have long-lasting and far-reaching consequences.

A quote from Jennifer Francis, climatologist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center

According to Francesca Guglielmo, senior climatologist at Copernicus, record ocean temperatures outside the Pacific, where El Niño is concentrated, show that it is not just a natural effect .

Sea surface temperature in the North Atlantic reached a record high [relative to a specific date] every day for an entire year since March 5, 2023, often by seemingly impossible margins, according to Brian McNoldy, a tropical scientist at the University of Miami.

These other ocean areas are a symptom of heat trapped by greenhouse gases that has been accumulating for decades, Francis said in an email . This heat is now emerging and pushing air temperatures into uncharted territories.

These abnormally high temperatures are very worrying. To avoid even higher temperatures, we must act quickly to reduce CO2 emissions.

A quote from Natalie Mahowald, climatologist at Cornell University

This winter – December, January and February – was the warmest by almost a quarter of a degree, beating 2016, which was also an El Niño year. The three-month period was the hottest ever recorded in a season compared to pre-industrial levels in Copernicus records, which date back to 1940.

Ms Francis said that on a scale of 1 to 10 to assess the seriousness of the situation, she gives what is happening now a 10, but soon we will need a new scale, because What is a 10 today will be a 5 in the future, unless society can stop the buildup of heat-trapping gases.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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