NASA GISS data shows most insane spike on global average temperature for February 2016

We’ve written about the insane temperature records for January and February 2016 before. But judging by the well-established dataset of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies – we may have underestimated the extremity of the temperature deviation still:

NASA GISS graph world temperature shows extreme peak for February
The above graph that is quickly conquering the internet was made by Dutch climate data journalist Stephan Okhuijsen – and first published on It shows the entire temperature dataset of NASA GISS including monthly average values since 1880, projected against the climate average baseline for 1951-1980. This implies the deviation of +1.35 degrees Celsius for February 2016 is not since pre-industrial, but +1.35 compared to ‘the average climate of around 1965’.

What is odd is that it is the NASA GISS dataset that shows this incredible +1.35 degrees Celsius temperature anomaly. Everyone shouts El Niño when you see a peak like that, but actually the reason NASA GISS is considered a superior dataset is because it has very decent representation of the global average, by covering the poles in better detail – whereas other temperature datasets tend to over-represent the Earth’s tropics. That’s why such sets (like the University of Alabama’s graph) tend to show far larger peaks and dips for El Niño and La Niña years – which most of all influence atmospheric temperature around the tropics.

In other words: when it’s NASA GISS – it’s the entire globe that’s breaking a record. And that should worry us. (To be more precise: Events in the Arctic should worry us.)

But is it a peak? 2014 was exactly on ‘ENSO trend’ – 2016 might show the actual CO2 climate sensitivity trend

It’s becoming a bit hard to establish where exactly the trend of the world temperature graph lies. You can draw one on a 5, 10, or even 20-year average to try to even out the El Niña/La Niña Southern Oscillation – but there are also voices that say the short-running influence of aerosol pollution has masked more of the long-running CO2-induced warming – and that CO2 climate sensitivity is in fact higher (than most think), therefore the temperature graph will at some point (because aerosol cooling is short-lived, and CO2 is cumulative) grow towards an other, higher trend that wasn’t visible yet.

It will be very interesting to see the NASA GISS update of this graph for March. On all accounts we can be certain 2016 will be worse than 2015 – and that we will have three surpassing ‘hottest years’ in a row.

© Rolf Schuttenhelm |

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