People, Environment

February Shatters Heat Record

February Shatters Heat RecordFebruary Shatters Heat Record

For the third month in a row, Earth’s global temperatures in February 2016 were the most abnormally warm on record for any month, according to an analysis released by NASA Saturday.

February’s global temperature increase of 1.35 degrees Celsius above the 1951-1980 average topped the previous record just set in January (1.13°C above average), according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

That may not sound impressive, but ingesting temperature data over the entire surface of the Earth, NASA’s analysis found this was the largest monthly warm temperature anomaly in their database dating to 1880, topping a record set the previous two months in a row, reported.

A separate analysis from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting also found February 2016 set a new record-warm anomaly for the globe, 0.86 degrees Celsius above the 1981-2010 average. That reanalysis, however, dates only to 1979.

Separate analyses from the Japanese Meteorological Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be released in the coming week.

The global record was paced again by exceptional warmth in the northern hemisphere higher latitudes. Much of Alaska into western and central Canada, as well as Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and much of Russia were at least 4 degrees Celsius above February averages, according to NASA.

NASA calculated February temperatures north of 75 degrees north latitude were over 6°C above average.

Elsewhere, February was also much warmer than average (at least 2 °C) over much of the United States, central Europe, parts of southwest Asia and the Middle East, northern and southern Africa, northern and central South America, northern Australia and the equatorial eastern and central Pacific, associated with the strong El Nino.

There were some colder-than-average spots in February including the north Atlantic, a stretch from far eastern Siberia into the north-central Pacific, the Southern Ocean including Antarctica, and over northern Hudson Bay, Canada.

The five largest monthly global warm anomalies in NASA’s database have all occurred within the past five months, topped by February.

The last colder-than-average month in NASA’s database was February 1985, and Earth’s last colder-than-average January was 40 years ago, in 1976.

Six of the last nine months have either tied or set new records in NASA’s database for that month, helping to set the Earth’s warmest year on record in 2015.

The warm anomaly from December 2015 through February 2016 - northern hemisphere winter — easily outpaced the record warm such period for the globe by 0.38°C, a shellacking in climate statistics, according to NASA. It marked the first time since 1880 when the December-February period had a warm anomaly greater than 1°C.