Yet another global heat record has been beaten. It appears January 2016 - the most abnormally hot month in history, according to Nasa - will be comprehensively trounced once official figures come in for February.
Initial satellite measurements, compiled by Eric Holthaus at Slate, put February’s anomaly from the pre-industrial average between 1.15C and 1.4C. The UN Paris climate agreement struck in December seeks to limit warming to 1.5C if possible.
“Even the lower part of that range is extraordinary,” said Will Steffen, an emeritus professor of climate science at Australian National University and a councillor at Australia’s Climate Council.
It appears that on Wednesday, the northern hemisphere even slipped above the milestone 2C average for the first time in recorded history. This is the arbitrary limit above which scientists believe global temperature rise will be “dangerous”.
The Arctic in particular experienced terrific warmth throughout the winter. Temperatures at the north pole approached 0C in late December – 30C to 35C above average.
Mark Serreze, the director of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre, described the conditions as “absurd”.
“The heat has been unrelenting over the entire season,” he said. “I’ve been studying Arctic climate for 35 years and have never seen anything like this before”.
All this weirdness follows the record-smashing year of 2015, which was 0.9C above the 20th century average. This beat the previous record warmth of 2014 by 0.16C.