Latest news about climate change

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  • Monthly global temperature in March. Credit: Japan Meteorological Agency.

    The graph shows Arctic sea ice extent as of April 3, 2016, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years. Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

  • Latest news about climate change
    23.04.2016 15:11

    The global temperature continues on the rise with March exceding the previous record in February

    The combined effect of the ongoing climate change and El Niño has lead to a shock for many scientists this trimester of 2016. Organisations such as the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), NASA and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) confirmed that February and March have smashed previous records. Many parts of the planet registered positive anomalies with the exception of southern Greenland and the Southern Ocean.

    Compared with the 20th-century average, March was 1.07C hotter across the globe, according to the JMA figures, while February was 1.04C higher. The JMA measurements go back to 1891 and show that every one of the past 11 months has been the hottest ever recorded for that month. NASA confirmed February 2016 as the hottest February on record with 1.34C above average while March was 1.28C from 1951-1980.

    Despite El Niño weakening in the next months, its impact will continue for much of the year and the MetOffice is expecting that 2016 will be the hottest year on record globally.  However, for 2017 neutral conditions or La Niña, the cooling of the Pacific Ocean, will reduce the chance of a new record.
    Another impact of this heat is that the winter peak of the Arctic sea ice extent was the second smallest on record since 1979.

    What next?

    A paper published in Science, looking back at a climate change 55.9 million years ago shows what may happen in the coming decades. The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) happened about 55.9 million years ago, when a large, natural CO2 release drove strong warming that caused amplified feedbacks. The climatic changes during the PETM occurred over longer time scales than those of the current anthropogenic climate change.

    The initial CO2 rise during the PETM took place over the course of a few millennia, about a factor of 10 slower than if humans burned the remaining fossil-fuel resources under a business-as-usual scenario.

    During the PETM, the rise in CO2 and resulting climate shifts caused further changes propagating across the Earth system. On land, enhanced erosion and sediment transport to the sea are consistent with the expected increase in hydrological variability from warming; larger or more intense storms separated by longer and drier intervals likely contributed to regional loss of vegetation, soil carbon, and soil fertility. In the ocean, the high levels of CO2 during the PETM raised acidity while ocean warming increased stratification. Low-oxygen zones expanded and anoxic, H2S-producing conditions developed at least seasonally in some places.

    The PETM transformed conditions on land and in the ocean in ways that affected the Earth system for more than 100,000 years and that might be considered catastrophic by many people today.

    By: Mario Cuellar