Record warm half year

It has been a noticeably mild summer, autumn and now start of the winter.

Here in Dunedin plants are budding and flowering unseasonally, there has been a distinct lack of cold southerly weather patterns, and there have been only a small number of mild frosts. Yesterday morning dawned clear and calm but with no frost, which was remarkable for the end of June.

And what is being observed and felt is backed up by the numbers. NIWA says that the first half of 2016 will easily be the warmest on record in New Zealand.

RNZ: NZ feeling the heat as 2016 shapes up to be record-breaker

Scientists are warning New Zealand’s record-breaking temperatures are causing a surge in the numbers of agricultural pests and , ongoing drought, with predictions the problem is set to get worse.

Findings by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) show the first half of 2016 is shaping up to be the warmest since records began in 1909.

NIWA’s findings show every month of the year to June was at least half a degree more than the average from 1981 to 2010.

NIWA forecaster Chris Brandolino said if the mild conditions continued until the end of June, temperatures for the last six months would end up at above 1.3°C degrees above average, making it the warmest first six months of the year on record.

The months of March, April and May were the second warmest autumn on record, and May the warmest May ever.

NIWA said greenhouse gases, an increase in warm northerly winds and warmer sea surface temperatures were the reasons for the record temperatures.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) September 2013 report found that “as temperatures increase, so do risks of serious and irreversible damage”.

Individually we may enjoy it – personally I don’t mind the warmer weather – but it is raising concerns about the overall effect of climate change and the speed with which our planet appears to be warming up.

NASATemperatureIndex

NASA Global Climate Change

This graph illustrates the change in global surface temperature relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures. The 10 warmest years in the 134-year record all have occurred since 2000, with the exception of 1998. The year 2015 ranks as the warmest on record. (Source: NASA/GISS). This research is broadly consistent with similar constructions prepared by the Climatic Research Unit and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

When most of the world’s climate scientists, and most of the climate models, and most of the climate data, and our own experiences all correlate then it’s getting more difficult to deny we have change, and the rate of change is potentially alarming.