Global temperature records continue to be broken on a monthly basis, with this past April now officially the hottest April on record. April was 1.10°C (1.98°F) warmer than the 20th-century average for April of 13.7°C (56.7°F) and 0.28°C (0.50°F) above the previous record for April, set in 2010. This marks seven months in a row where the respective monthly temperature record has been broken. All seven months were least 1°C above the recent historical mean for that month, signalling a definite pattern of change in recent times. Furthermore, the final three months of this hot streak broke their respective records by the largest margin ever recorded. Arctic sea ice is also at a record lowest level for April according to the Danish Meteorological Institute, and carbon dioxide levels at several key measurement stations are teetering at a historic 400ppm for the first time. Experts say that current trends all but insures that 2016 will be the hottest year on record.
“The interesting thing is the scale at which we’re breaking records. It’s clearly all heading in the wrong direction. Climate scientists have been warning about this since at least the 1980s. And it’s been bloody obvious since the 2000s. So where’s the surprise?” – Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales.
Global Temperature Records 2016: Hottest April, Hottest Spring, Hottest Year
The cause of the record temperatures in recent months can partially be attributed to the powerful 2015-16 El Niño event, an irregularly occurring phenomenon where warm bands of water come together in the Pacific to increase oceanic temperatures. Atmospheric temperatre generally lags behind oceanic temperature (it takes time for the heat to transfer from the water to the air), so the rising atmospheric temperature in the months following El Niño were, to some extent, expected. However, all that being said, the fact that so many records have been broken so dramatically month after month have led experts like Pitman to focus on human-caused climate change, particularly carbon dioxide emissions, as the ultimate root cause for the increasingly dramatic rise in temperature. Indeed, the especially warm El Niño of 2015-16 is itself being explained as an effect of man-made carbon dioxide emissions, which Pitman and others say points to a cyclical increase in temperatures that could prove increasingly difficult to escape.