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February 2024 warmest on record globally

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February 2024 warmest on record globally

Last month was the warmest February on record globally, making it the ninth month in a row with record temperatures for the time of year, scientists have said.

Global sea surface temperatures are also at their highest ever recorded, data from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service shows.

The data shows February was 1.77C warmer than the pre-industrial average for the month, from 1850-1900, and 0.81C above 1991-2020 levels.

And the global average temperature for the past 12 months – between March 2023 and February 2024 – is the highest on record at 1.56C above pre-industrial levels.

That puts the world temporarily above the 1.5C threshold beyond which, over the long term, the worst impacts of climate change are expected.

Daily global average temperatures were “exceptionally high” during the first half of the month, reaching 2C above 1850-1900 levels on four days from February 8-11, Copernicus said.

European temperatures in February 2024 were 3.3C above the 1991-2020 average for the month, with much-above average temperatures experienced in central and eastern Europe, the figures showed.

Europe’s winter, stretching from December to February, was the second warmest on record for the continent.

Average global sea surface temperatures for February, outside the polar regions, were the highest for any month on record, at 21.06C, outstripping the previous record of 20.98C in August 2023.

The average daily sea surface temperature reached a new absolute high of 21.09C at the end of the month, Copernicus said.

Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), said: “February joins the long streak of records of the last few months.

“As remarkable as this might appear, it is not really surprising as the continuous warming of the climate system inevitably leads to new temperature extremes.

“The climate responds to the actual concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere so, unless we manage to stabilise those, we will inevitably face new global temperature records and their consequences.”

Responding to the figures, Richard Allan, professor of climate science at the University of Reading, said: “The record global warmth we have been experiencing in February 2024 and over the past year is almost entirely due to continued greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.”

He added that lower levels of harmful aerosol particle pollution in some regions were also contributing “a bit to warming rather than masking it” and global temperatures had been given an extra boost by warm El Nino conditions, a phenomenon in the Pacific.

Dr Friederike Otto, from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, said: “People should not be surprised that we have broken another record.

“Humans continue to burn oil, gas, and coal, so the climate continues to warm. It is a very well understood relationship.

“There is no silver bullet or magic fix for climate change. We know what to do – stop burning fossil fuels and replace them with more sustainable, renewable sources of energy.

“Until we do that, extreme weather events intensified by climate change will continue to destroy lives and livelihoods.”

And she warned: “People who think we can keep warming to 1.5C and continue to open new gas and oil fields might as well claim the earth is flat and believe in Bigfoot.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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