April Ties Record, 2020 Could Be Warmest Year and CO2 Levels Highest in 3 Million Years

Graphic: The Washington Post

April’s global average temperatures tied for the warmest on record, with NOAA predicting there is a 75% chance that this year will be the warmest since temperatures records began in 1880 due to much warmer than average temperatures in northern Asia, especially Siberia, across northern and coastal central Greenland, for parts of Antarctica, areas of Alaska and the Arctic Ocean.  And according to the Capital Weather Gang, carbon dioxide levels have reached 418 parts per million this month, the highest level in at least 3 million years.

Why This Matters:  As carbon dioxide levels keep going up it is easier and easier to set warmest month records because it stays in the atmosphere for a long time continuing to heat us up.  If you are younger than 35, there has not been a month in which global temps were below average in your lifetime.  Because of all this heat, the summer is setting up to be a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season.  In fact, one homeland security expert, Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who commanded Joint Task Force Katrina, told lawmakers last week that the federal response to the pandemic “is going to challenge FEMA’s ability to deal with our active hurricane season” and “[n]ow is the time for the National Security Council to reorganize…”

April Heat

Due to a polar vortex pattern, the western U.S. was especially hot in April.  So was Alaska — Fairbanks hit 82 degrees on Mother’s day making it more than 20 degrees warmer than cities like Boston.  Miami also had record heat.  Places like Phoenix in the southwest have seen temperatures over 100 degrees for 12 of the last 16 days, even as the northeastern U.S. experienced a rare May dusting of snow. But the weather pattern is about to flip, with the east coast starting to warm up, while Phoenix “cools down” to the low 90s. But that means the middle section of the country on the warm/cold weather boundary could be in for some storms.  The severe storms are expected on Wednesday, and there could be tornadoes in Oklahoma, parts of north-central Texas near the Red River, and southwest Kansas.

Records Set

What makes this year even more discomforting is that, unlike the prior record-holder in 2016, there has not been an El Niño in the Pacific, which would have pushed the temps higher than otherwise.  But things like the worst bleaching event ever in the Great Barrier Reef’s history shows that the carbon is taking its toll on the ocean as well.  As The Post explained,  “In an indication of how high of a fever the Earth is running, NOAA found that February and March were the warmest two non-El Niño months in NOAA’s temperature database, said Derek Arndt, the head of the climate monitoring division at the National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, N.C.”

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