NOAA Record Heat for February

It will probably not surprise you that global temperature according to NOAA agrees with that from NASA, that February set a new record for the hottest monthly temperature anomaly on record.


Just as we did with NASA data, we can estimate the influence of el Niño, volcanic eruptions, and solar variations on global temperature. Here’s the data (black line) together with the model (red line):


The known factors account for much of this year’s increase, demonstrating that the el Niño brought part of the record-breaking heat. But not all of it. There’s also that trend — the one due to global warming. And there’s other natural variation as well; here are the residuals:


For February’s record, all three factors — variation of known origin, variation of unknown origin, and the trend — conspired to raise Earth’s temperature to unprecedented heights.

Data corrected for known sources of variation reveals that the trend continues, upward, and there’s no evidence for any recent “pause,” “hiatus,” or even “slowdown”:


Natural variation took February’s temperature above the trend line, just as it has taken temperature below the trend line, and will again. That’s the way fluctuations are. But it will just as surely bring temperature above the trend line again, and when it does we’re likely to set new records, because the trend keeps going up.

It’s called “global warming.”

Satellite data for the atmosphere show the same thing. Here’s total-troposphere temperature according to RSS (Remote Sensing Systems), along with a model (in red) based on el Niño, volcanic eruptions, and solar variations:


Here’s the RSS data corrected for the known factors causing fluctuations:


The steadiness of the trend is obvious. The dashed gray line marks the begining of 1998; claims (by so many) that global warming stopped or paused at that time, are just ludicrous.

People are also starting to notice that temperature over land areas (disregarding the sea surface) has risen even faster, also smashing records this February:


February’s temperature this year over land areas was 2.31 deg.C (a whopping 4.16 deg.F) hotter than the 20th-century average.

Folks, there’s no sign that this February’s extraordinary heat is a change in the trend. But it is a wake-up call. It’s a slap in the face. Because fluctuations like we’ve seen, from both known and unknown sources, can’t break record after record all by themselves. For that you need the trend. When trend and fluctuations combine, you get records like we’re seeing now. And it has consequences. They’re sometimes even ironic.

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8 responses to “NOAA Record Heat for February

  1. “Wake-up call…” Yes, well-said.

    And that “consequences” link is pretty sobering.

    Gotta say, I’m shocked–shocked!–that the denialosphere, so well-known for their concern for the developing world and their struggles, somehow left it to the ‘alarmist’ press to note that 3 such nations last month took “5 Katrina” economic hits.

  2. Are the graphs marked “NOAA”, GHCNv3 or GHCNv4beta?

    With much warming this year being in data-sparse Northern regions, it may make a difference that GHCNv4beta has many more stations and can thus remove data artefacts more reliably.

  3. Rachelle Lappinen

    I believe that humans are responsible for this current global warming. We have just experienced the hottest year on record and about 10 of the hottest years on record have been in the most recent century, 2 degrees is significant. Core ice drills from Antarctica demonstrate that this is not just a natural earth cycle (Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth”). What can we do about it? What I am doing is promoting the use of more renewable energy. This is not a complete answer, but the company I work with has helped remove over 5 billion pounds of CO2 from the environment in the last 5 years.

  4. Could you expand a little on the model used in the second graph, Tamino? I don’t quite understand it (for this and for the last post on GISS data). 4th graph removes the effects of solar/ENSO/volcanic, 2nd graph plots their ‘influence.’ What does that mean?

    • I figured it’s probably the same model as graph four, removing those influences, but just wanted confirmation.

  5. If I may ask a favor, how does the global temperature graph stack up against the early predictions from Mann et al of future global warming? I seem to recall, from a year or two ago, a whole series of arguments from the denier side about how global temperature was tracking way below expectations.


    • It doesn’t, if by “Mann et al” you mean either of the original hockey stick papers, Mann, Bradley and Hughes 1998 or 1999. That’s because both papers were about constructing or extending a paleoclimate temperature record from proxy measurements, and neither one made any projections about the future.

      There have, of course, been numerous studies that *have* made such projections, based on various assumptions about what humans collectively decide to do with our carbon emissions. The short answer is that observations are reasonably consistent with the relevant projections. See, for instance:

      Of course, after another 7 months of record or near-record warmth, we are even closer to the ensemble mean than we were last summer.