Climate Record Update: Did northern hemisphere breach +2C climate target in early March, or did we ‘just’ breach +1.5?

Baselines, baselines, baselines, everyone. What goes for emission reduction targets also goes for temperature measurements: Let’s stick together! The graph in our first post had some fawlty measurements. But we STILL breached pre-industrial +2(!)

Take a close look at below graph – today’s update. That extreme peak around March 3 has been removed. But you’re mistaken to think we just touched +1.5 – see the base periode! 1981-2010. That means these temperatures are compared to the global average of around 1995. And that you can add another ~0.7 degrees. The northern hemisphere did indeed breach pre-industrial +2.

Northern hemisphere still breached pre-industrial +2 degrees Celsius!
Always make sure you check your sources. NOAA’s NCEP’s update of the same graph of today, March 6, has polished the peak around early March. But hang on – there’s more to this graph. Northern hemisphere still breached pre-industrial +2 degrees Celsius a couple of days ago..!

There is good reason why ‘preliminary data’ are called preliminary. Today’s update of NOAA NCEP’s graph shows indeed month after month global temperatures are surpassing anomaly records and March could possibly beat February. The extreme peak is gone though. Which made us examine the y axis a little better. Add another +0.7 degrees Celsius to understand where we are.

How Twitter got ahead of itself – and accidentally created a giant climate scoop:
It’s the age of Twitter of course – to which we gladly contribute. No one’s even sure about February still. Which is why the wise people at NASA, NOAA and other established institutions keep quiet until somewhere around the middle of the next month – before they say/confirm ‘how hot it has been’. In that small timeframe enthousiast like ourselves sometimes slip in, because we can’t hold our tongues when we see that something really remarkable might be taking place. This winter is remarkable for sure – and 2016 is indeed likely to break record-hot 2015. The latest craze – started by a tweet by meteorologist and Slate writer Eric Holthaus – was due to some measurement noise in early March that a bit too quickly added another half degree to the charts. But the sweeping conclusion turned out to be true anyway: the northern hemisphere breached +2 degrees. Well done Eric :) Don’t forget to tweet about it!

© Rolf Schuttenhelm |

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