February Weather Sparks Talk of 'Climate Emergency'

Worldwide, February smashed temperature record by huge margin
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 14, 2016 5:10 AM CDT
Updated Mar 14, 2016 6:58 AM CDT
The US Just Had the Hottest Winter on Record
Just a guy riding his bike wearing shorts - on Christmas Eve in Manhattan.   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

The combination of El Niño and man-made global warming added up to the hottest winter on record in the US, according to federal meteorologists. The average temperature for the Lower 48 states from December through February—known as meteorological winter—was 36.8 degrees Fahrenheit, 4.6 degrees above normal for the winter just finished. It breaks the record set in 1999-2000. Last month was the seventh-warmest February on record, and NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch says a super-hot December pushed the winter to record territory. All six New England states had their warmest winters. Every state in the Lower 48 had winters at least 1.7 degrees warmer than normal, while Alaska was 10.6 degrees warmer than normal, according to records that go back to 1895.

But while last month wasn't the warmest February in American history, it broke temperature records worldwide, and did so by a record-setting amount, the Guardian reports. According to NASA data, it was a shocking 2.43 degrees Fahrenheit above the norm—significantly warmer than during 1998's El Nino, which was at least as strong as this one. The Telegraph reports that December 2015 and January 2016 also set records for deviating from the 1951-1980 norm, though not by as big a margin. "We are in a kind of climate emergency now," Stefan Rahmstorf from Germany’s Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research tells the Sydney Morning Herald. (Scientists say our nights are getting warmer faster than our days.)

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