February spike in global temperatures stuns scientists

Global temperatures leapt in February, lifting warming from pre-industrial levels to beyond 1.5 degrees, and stoking concerns about a “climate emergency”.

Unusual warmth in waters off northern Australia also prompted an alert by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority about the risk of widespread coral bleaching.

According to NASA analysis, average temperatures last month were 1.35 degrees above the norm for the 1951-1980 period. They smashed the previous biggest departure from the average – set only in the previous month – by 0.21 degrees.

“This is really quite stunning … it’s completely unprecedented,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, from Germany’s Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research. February’s spike is “a true shocker, and yet another reminder of the incessant long-term rise in global temperature resulting from human-produced greenhouse gases”.

“We are in a kind of climate emergency now,” Professor Rahmstorf said, noting that global carbon dioxide levels last year rose by a record rate of more than 3 parts per million.

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