April breaks global temperature record, marking seven months of new highs
As UN Climate Change Conference kicked off yesterday in Bonn, Germany, climate scientists have declared April 2016 the hottest April on record globally – and the seventh month in a row to have broken global temperature records.
The latest figures smashed the previous record for April by the largest margin ever recorded.
It makes three months in a row that the monthly record has been broken by the largest margin ever, and seven months in a row that are at least 1C above the 1951-80 mean for that month. When the string of record-smashing months started in February, scientists began talking about a “climate emergency”.
Figures released by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) over the weekend show the global temperature of land and sea was 1.11C warmer in April than the average temperature for April during the period 1951-1980.
It all but assures that 2016 will be the hottest year on record, and probably by the largest margin ever.
The new record broke the previous one by 0.24C, which was set in 2010, at 0.87C above the baseline average for April. That record itself broke one set three years earlier at 0.75C above the baseline average for April.
The current blast of hot air around the globe is being spurred by a massive El Niño, which is a release of warm water across the Pacific Ocean. But it’s not the biggest El Niño on record and that spike in temperatures is occurring over a background of rapid global warming, pushing temperatures to all-time highs.
“The interesting thing is the scale at which we’re breaking records,” said Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales in Australia. “It’s clearly all heading in the wrong direction.
“Climate scientists have been warning about this since at least the 1980s. And it’s been bloody obvious since the 2000s. So where’s the surprise?” said Pitman.
Pitmans said the recent figures put the recent goal agreed in Paris of just 1.5C warming in doubt. “The 1.5C target, it’s wishful thinking. I don’t know if you’d get 1.5C if you stopped emissions today. There’s inertia in the system. It’s putting intense pressure on 2C,” he said.
The record temperatures were wreaking havoc with ecosystems around the world. They’ve triggered the third recorded global coral bleaching, and in Australia 93 per cent of the reefs have been affected by bleaching along the 2,300km Great Barrier Reef.
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