Publication Date March 18, 2016

Earth crushed temperature milestones this winter, edging closer to climate guardrail

An ice-filled fjord near Svalbard, Norway, which experienced a record mild winter in 2016. Image: Getty Images, Moment RF

When compared to average temperatures early in the industrial revolution, it becomes clear that global average surface temperatures — or at least temperatures in the northern hemisphere — have been flirting with the internationally-defined climate guardrail of 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above the preindustrial average. 

Limiting warming to well below this level is the official goal enshrined in the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, but it seems that at least for now, the warmth already circulating in the climate system, from the depths of the ocean to the upper atmosphere, may be outpacing the ability for countries to slash emissions