NIWA global warmth and El Niño update
Globally, February 1998 was the most above average month in the instrumental climate record.
2 April 1998
RECORD GLOBAL WARMTH
"New figures just released by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) show that globally averaged temperatures near the surface of the earth for February 1998 were 0.75°C above the 1961-1990 normal. This broke the record for any month in the climate record back to 1856" said NIWA senior climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger.
"This exceeded the record by more than ever before, with the next warmest month, October 1997, being 0.59°C above normal. The information is based on data collected from over 1,000 land-based weather stations and observations from a similar number of ships and buoys"
"The global warmth, however, can not all be attributable to El Niño" said Dr Salinger. "According to WMO tremendous variations in the normal patterns of temperature and rainfall were brought on by El Niño during February and early March. El Niño continued shifting rainfall patterns making it very dry in south-east Asia and very wet along the coasts of North and South America."
"Although El Niño’s main effect was on the tropics, it also affected North America, Europe and eastern Asia. Warm tropical air was pulled into these northern latitudes bringing much above average late winter temperatures to all these areas. Current expectations are for the El Niño episode in the Pacific to disappear during mid-winter."
" And in New Zealand the warmth continues" said Dr Salinger. "More north westerlies propelling sub tropical air onto New Zealand caused February and March to be exceptionally warm months. New Zealand temperatures in February were a record 2.5°C above average, and March 1.3°C above average."
"Despite the El Niño episode going on in the equatorial Pacific, the north westerlies and hot weather over New Zealand are not the typical El Niño climate pattern over New Zealand. In autumn, cool south westerlies normally occur. There are also other factors, like sea temperatures in the Indian Ocean that affect New Zealand climate."
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