See what Dec 2015 to Feb 2016 looked like, temperature-wise:
2016 started off way hotter than 2015. A sudden jump like this is called a step change. If you expect we'll now cool off to our previous decadal average, forget that. We've "leveled up".
The current warming surge amounts to what’s called a step change — a practically instantaneous shift in our planet’s climate.
This sudden shift in temperature has arrived because of a confluence of events: Long-term global warming, the multiyear effect of El Niño, and extreme weather — including persistent heat waves at the regional scale.
The major cause of February’s exceptional warmth is global warming,…
… El Niño can’t explain all or even most of the current warming spike — especially the warmth in the Arctic.
Based on the Met Office’s estimates and my calculations, 2016 will probably be around 1.1 to 1.5 degrees above the 1850-1900 average. An annual breach of 2 degrees could happen as soon as 2030, according to climate model simulations,…
According to a five-year prediction from the Met Office, global temperatures may fall slightly over the next year or two, as the El Niño wanes and temporarily cooler ocean temperatures associated with La Niña take hold. But global warming will make that respite brief: 2018, 2019 and 2020 will likely be warmer than 2015, and the warming trend is expected to continue long after that. Sixteen of the 18 years that followed the last big El Niño (1997-98) were warmer than 1997. [emphasis mine]
Step changes also happen in other climate issues, such as the rate of sea level rise. Sudden jumps in the rate of melt indicate a tipping point was passed, and new self-reinforcements have kicked in.
Doubling times in non linear events often don’t fit a pure exponential curve — instead tending to follow a series of spikes and recessions with major transitional events coming at the end of any ‘curve.’ [emphasis mine]
Our path ahead: major transitional events kicking us into new regimes of change we'll hate.
...since 1990 there has been a 40% increase in total radiative forcing, that's the warming effect on our climate of all greenhouse gases.
Concentrations of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Last year's increase was 50% higher than the average of the past 10 years.
Researchers say a combination of human activities and the El Niño weather phenomenon drove CO2 to a level not seen in 800,000 years.
Scientists say this risks making global temperature targets largely unattainable.
"It is the largest increase we have ever seen in the 30 years we have had this network," Dr Oksana Tarasova, chief of WMO's global atmosphere watch programme, told BBC News.
Emissions from human sources have slowed down in the last couple of yearsaccording to research, but according to Dr Tarasova, it is the cumulative total in the atmosphere that really matters as CO2 stays aloft and active for centuries.
Rapidly increasing atmospheric levels of CO2 and other gases have the potential, according to the study to "initiate unpredictable changes in the climate system... leading to severe ecological and economic disruptions."
image source (text mine)
CO2 is at ~403 ppm.
An interesing link some may be interested in is:
Last year Antarctic sea ice dropped significantly, and in 2017 it dropped again.
The Antarctic sea ice growth in winter and melt in summer is the biggest annual change on the planet.
"It basically doubles the size of Antarctica each year and where that sea ice sits determines where the storms go…
But the big changes occurring in Antarctica impact not only weather, but the health of the world's oceans too, delivering oxygen and nutrients.
During November the sea ice edge is usually around 100km further north of where it is this year. For it to have broken out this early is a significant change and it's causing alarms bells to ring.
"It dropped rapidly last year and we're seeing now early break-up of the sea ice. Many of these things coming together certainly don't bode well."
The sea ice is not only melting ahead of schedule, there's a lot less of it to begin with. Last year there was 30 percent less ice …
Climate scientists believe Antarctica may have hit a tipping point.
"The impacts that we're having on the planet, it wouldn't surprise me if we are going to some sort of step change in how the Antarctic sea ice system operates," Dr Robinson said.
Prof Wilson said the abrupt change is "exciting" but troubling.
Climate scientists will be watching closely over the next few years to establish whether this is a one-off event, or the moment Antarctica began to succumb to a rapidly warming planet. [emphasis mine]