Important update: Here is why crazy February temperature record is NOT the result of El Niño

Yesterday we pointed out that it is odd that it is actually the NASA GISS temperature dataset that shows the largest temperature anomaly for February 2016, namely 1.35 degrees Celsius above the 1955-1980 baseline. Indeed, a monthly deviation that really stretches the definition of a climate record.

Now before everyone on the internet starts shouting ‘El Niño‘ – let’s first realise that normally NASA GISS shows smaller peaks & dips for El Niño and La Niña, like we explained yesterday.

So something else is going on. And we have an idea. Let the below two images do the rest of the talking, comparing ‘Super El Niño February 2016′ with the previous ‘Super El Niño February’, of 1998 – both temperature anomaly charts derived from that same GISS dataset:

Take a look at this: in February 2016 the Arctic was 11.5 degrees Warmer
Temperature anomaly chart for February 2016 of NASA GISS. Take a look at the Arctic: +11.5 degrees Celsius above the 1955-1980 climate average. Is this an El Niño pattern? Well, compare with the below version of the same chart, for the latest ‘Super El Niño February’:
During the El Niño February of 1998 the high Arctic was actually cooler than average
During the El Niño February of 1998 the high Arctic was actually cooler than average – as the above temperature anomaly chart of NASA GISS shows. As can be expected during (and after) El Niño there was excess heat in the tropics – and also clearly at more temperate latitudes in North America and Eurasia.

We would like to point you back to the NASA GISS global temperature graph for February – and the one of NOAA showing a pre-industrial +2C peak in early March.

These records are remarkable – and therefore need explaining. We think El Niño does play a large role in the annual global temperature record for 2015 and 2016 – breaching the ‘La Niña plateau’ – but we fear we are currently also witnessing a couple of global climate feedbacks that start to play a very dominant role.

When it comes to current temperature records, that is the Arctic sea ice decline feedback (not an albedo effect, because there is no Sun during the Arctic winter/polar night, but a more direct ocean-atmosphere heat exchange) and when it came to that equally remarkable CO2 concentration rise record we reported on a couple of days ago, that is carbon climate feedbacks – the result of massive heat- and drought-induced tropical forest fires, not just in Indonesia, but also the Amazon.

Welcome to the future, we fear. Because while Amazon droughts are becoming the new norm, so is an ever-smaller Arctic ice cap:

Arctic sea ice trend - record low for February 2016
Amidst so many climate records, you risk to ignore the Arctic sea ice news. Well, another record. Never before so little winter sea ice, as in February 2016, NSIDC data show. Again, compare with the ‘El Niño February’ for 1998. For further comparison, here’s the Arctic sea-ice extent graph for January 2016 (showing also in January the ice was doing just fine during the previous Super El Nino, of 1998).

© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org

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