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January – March Warmest Start of Any Year on Record: Rate of Climate Change Accelerates

January to March 2015 was the warmest start for any year on recordIt’s becoming something of a broken record isn’t it? All bad puns aside, NASA reported this week that the period from January through March 2015 was the warmest three-month start of any year on record.

Data released from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) shows last month as the the warmest March on record in the Northern Hemisphere. With much of Asia and western North America experiencing much higher than average temperatures, the combined land/ocean surface temperature for the northern half of the globe was 2.97° Fahrenheit (1.17° Celsius) above the 1951-1980 mean. For the entire globe, GISS data places March 2015 as the third warmest on record.

The period from April 2014 through March 2015 marked the hottest 12-month period on record. The previous record warm 12-month period was set just a month prior, March 2014 through February 2015, which beat the record set just a month before that (February 2014-January 2015).

California braces for what may become a mega-drought, with the driest January on record (not one drop of rain) followed by hottest February on record. Record warmth in Siberia helped fuel raging wildfires, turning the permafrost of the high Arctic into “permamelt.”

 

Warmest March on record in the Northern Hemisphere

Climate change starting to change faster

The warm start to 2015 (the American Northeast notwithstanding) continues the ongoing trend of record warmth in 2014, indicating what some scientists say may be a “jump” in the rate of climate change. According to a study by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, among others, “humanity is about to experience a historically unprecedented spike in temperatures.” While still in the first half of 2015, meteorologist Jeff Masters says “five nations or territories have tied or set all-time records for their hottest temperature in recorded history.”

On March 24 a temperature of 63.5° Fahrenheit on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula set an all time record, fully 30° F above average. This broke the record from just the previous day, when temperatures reached 63.3° Fahrenheit. The rate of ice melt in Antartica has surprised scientists, saying the collapse of much of the big ice sheets in western Antarctica is now irreversible.

The rate of climate change is increasing

Surface air temperature (SAT) has risen fastest during the positive phases of a Pacific Ocean cycle that’s sometimes called the IPO.
Credit: England, M. H. et al. Recent intensification of wind-driven circulation in the Pacific and the ongoing warming hiatus. Nature Clim. Change 4, 222–227 (2014)

“So it is a bad year for the Earth and an equally bad year for the politicians, talk show radio ‘scientists’, climate-denial funders, and second rate scientists who told us not to worry,” climate expert Professor told Joe Romm in an interview for ClimateProgress. “They told us global warming had stopped nearly two decades ago. The problem is, science and climate change marched forward. Perhaps next time we will believe the real scientists.”

Like I said at the start – from the repeated denials of the clear evidence of climate change to the rapid climb in global temperature anomalies and extreme weather events – it’s all a broken record. Perhaps it’s time pay heed to the later and ignore the former.

Main image credit: [email protected], courtesy flickr

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