Global surface temperatures in February were 1.35 degrees Celsius warmer than average, according to new data released by NASA.
The rise, which is compared against the baseline average from 1951 to 1980, beats the old record, which was 1.15 degrees Celsius above average in January.
According to Bob Henson and Jeff Masters of the site Weather Underground, the data was “a true shocker, and yet another reminder of the incessant long-term rise in global temperature resulting from human-produced greenhouse gases.
One explanation for the rise is El Niño in the Pacific Ocean, but according to The Guardian newspaper, the February temperature broke the record set during the last El Niño in 1998.
Chip Knappenberger, the assistant director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, says, “Global temperatures were especially warm in February, largely as a result of a strong, ongoing, and all-natural El Niño event.”
He added that after El Niño events, there are often La Niña events, which “can lead to cooler than normal conditions.”
“Natural variability is acting on top of a slow warming pressure that is being added by emissions of greenhouse gases from human-activities,” he said in a statement. “The result is a slow background rise in temperatures punctuated by shorter-term rises and falls.”
The Guardian cites Stefan Rahmstorf, from Germany's Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research and a visiting professorial fellow at the University of New South Wales, as saying the data represents “a kind of climate emergency now.”
Knappenberger says he disagrees with that assessment. He says instead that the rise is “a temporary blip superimposed on a slow, modest rate of warming.”