February was warmest month in planet's recorded history

Not just in Malta: February was the warmest month ever recorded for the planet and puts 2016 on course to become hottest on record

The uncharacteristically record-breaking warm weather last month was not felt in Malta only as, judging by new data, the Earth went through a dramatic change in February as it was the warmest month in recorded history, confirming fears of the unprecedented heating of our world.

Data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed that last month was the hottest February in 137 years of record keeping and the warmest month in recorded history, surpassing the previous global monthly record – set in December.

The unprecedented heating of our world has set a worrying trend as the top three months in terms of heat are the past three, going back to December 2015, and they all top 1C warmed than the 20th century average. And with the current El Nino weather event only now beginning to tail off, meteorologists believe that this year is destined to be the hottest on record.

The uncharacteristic heating of planet Earth was dramatically demonstrates around the globe: the Arctic’s sea ice cover – which should be reaching its maximum in a couple of weeks – stood at a record low for the second consecutive month, Indonesia was ravaged by fires, Ethiopia saw one of the worst droughts in history, while on the opposite side of the globe, New Zealand observed its second warmest month since national records began.

And it was more of the same in Malta. Figures by the MET office confirmed last month as the driest and warmest February since 1923, as a mere 2.6mm of precipitation and a mean temperature of 15.3C were recorded.

Last month’s jump in global temperatures represents an increase of 1.35C above pre-industrial levels and takes the world close to the 1.5C rise that last year’s Paris climate deal was supposed to prevent.

It is the 10th consecutive month to set a new record, and it puts 2016 on course to set a third straight annual record. Indeed, with the current El Nino weather event only now beginning to tail off, meteorologists believe that this year is destined to be the hottest on record, warmer even than 2015.

February temperatures over land and ocean averaged a scorching 1.21 C above the 20th century average – the latest in a string of broken monthly records that bring the Earth close to the symbolic 2 degree Celsius temperature hike predicated to spark catastrophic consequences.

Scientists and politicians are keen to hold global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels because they fear that a world that warms to such a level will experience severe loss of ice, particularly from Greenland’s massive shield of glaciers, and that the melting will in turn trigger considerable rises in sea levels.

Scientists warn there are many island states in the Pacific that will simply disappear if the planet undergoes that sort of warming. In addition, if the temperature increases to 1.5C, it will combine with ocean acidification driven by rising carbon dioxide emissions to dissolve the world’s already threatened coral reefs.

Experts have warned that the melting sea ice in the Arctic this winter is about a million square kilometres less than its average for this time of year. This latter feature is likely to have particularly profound consequences.

Indeed, the Guardian reports that no region on the planet has warmed as much as the Arctic. Unprecedented temperatures in the Arctic, averaging 4.5C above normal, melted away layers of ice to record-low levels while in some areas temperatures almost 7C above average were recorded.

More in Environment