Scorching February sets new global heat record as El Nino drives temperatures higher

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Record warmth across the globe was aided by a strong El Niño that peaked during the winter, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said, as average temperature during December-February hit the highest ever since records began in 1880.

The February average temperature for the globe was 1.21°C (2.18°F) above the 20th century average, the NOAA said, adding that this was not only the highest for the month of February in the 1880-2016 record, but it surpassed the all-time monthly record set just two months ago in December. February 2016 also marks the 10th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken.

Now for some scary data:

  • The February average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 2.18°F (1.21°C) above the 20thcentury average. This was not only the highest for February in the 1880–2016 record (surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.59°F / 0.33°C), but it surpassed the all-time monthly record set just two months ago in December 2015 by 0.16°F (0.09°C). February 2016 also marks the 10th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken.
  • The February globally averaged land surface temperature was 4.16°F (2.31°C) above the 20thcentury average. This was the highest for February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous records set in 1998 and 2015 by 1.13°F (0.63°C) and surpassing the all-time single-month record set in March 2008 by 0.77°F (0.43°C).
  • The February globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.46°F (0.81°C) above the 20thcentury average. This was the highest for February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2010 by 0.36°F (0.20°C) , and was the sixth-highest departure from average among all 1,632 months*in the record. The nine-highest monthly global ocean temperature departures have all occurred in the past nine months (since July 2015).
  • The average Arctic sea ice extent for February was 450,000 square miles (7.54 percent) below the 1981–2010 average. This was the smallest February extent since records began in 1979 and 77,000 square miles smaller than the previous record of 2005. February 2016 also marked the second consecutive month of record low Arctic sea ice extent, according to analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center based on data from NOAA and NASA.
  • Antarctic sea ice during February was 110,000 square miles (9.54 percent) below the 1981–2010 average. This was the sixth smallest Antarctic sea ice extent for February in the 38-year period of record and the smallest since 2011.
  • According to data from NOAA analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during February was 800,000 square miles below the 1981–2010 average. This was the third smallest February Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in the 50-year period of record and smallest since 2002. The North American snow cover extent was the 13thsmallest on record while the Eurasian snow cover extent was fourth smallest.
Global highlights: Seasonal (December 2015–February 2016)
  • The December–February average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 2.03°F (1.13°C) above the 20thcentury average. This was the highest for December–February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.52°F (0.26°C). December 2015–February 2016 also marks the highest 3-month departure from average for any 3-month period on record, surpassing the previous record set last month, November 2015–January 2016, by 0.16°F (0.09°C).
  • The globally averaged land surface temperature for December 2015–February 2016 was 3.47°F (1.93°C) above the 20thcentury average. This was the highest for December–February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record of 2015 by 0.83°F (0.46°C). December 2015–February 2016 also marks the highest 3-month departure from average for any 3-month period on record, surpassing the previous record of November 2015–January 2016 by 0.70°F (0.40°C).
  • The December–February globally averaged sea surface temperature was 1.51°F (0.84°C) above the 20thcentury average. This was the highest for December–February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.40°F (0.22°C).

 

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