Climate Scientist: On a Scale of 1 to 10, We're at a 10

But after warmest February on record, we'll soon need a new scale, she says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2024 1:00 PM CST
For the 9th Month in a Row, a World Heat Record Fell
In many places, snow was absent or short-lived in the warmest February on record.   (Getty Images/tumsasedgars)

The latest climate bulletin from the Copernicus monitoring service will not be a surprise to people in the Upper Midwest lamenting a "lost winter." Copernicus says last month was the warmest February on record, the latest month in a record-breaking 12-month period that also includes the warmest June, July, August, September, October, November, December, and January on record. Climate change caused by humans has been intensified this year by the El Nino fluctuation, CNN reports. The previous warmest winter on record was 2016, which was also an El Nino year.

According to Copernicus, last month was 1.77 degrees Celsius—3.19 degrees Fahrenheit—warmer than pre-industrial levels, the AP reports. The 2015 Paris agreement set the goal of keeping warming at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius—2.7 degrees Fahrenheit—a threshold that had been breached every month since July last year. Global ocean temperatures rose to the highest level on record last month, beating a record since in August last year. Brian McNoldy, a researcher at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School, says that at times, "records have been broken by margins that are virtually statistically impossible." The North Atlantic has set a new temperature record every day for a solid year.

Hannah Cloke, a climate scientist at the University of Reading, tells CNN that the Copernicus data is consistent with what scientists predicted would happen if emissions targets were not met. If the world continues to ignore evidence that drastic cuts need to be made, "our children's generation, and all those that follow, will be justified in pointing to the people who lived in 2024 and cursing our reckless stupidity," she says. Woodwell Climate Research Center climate scientist Jennifer Francis says the "alarming" data includes signs that a hot spot over the Arctic is triggering ocean current changes that will have "long-lasting and far-reaching effects," per the AP. She says that on a scale of 1 to 10 on how bad the situation is, this is a 10, " but soon we'll need a new scale." (More climate change stories.)

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