The Earth sweated through the hottest February on record with a temperature 2.18 degrees above the 20th century average, and surpassed the all-time monthly record set in December by 0.16 degrees.
The news, released this morning by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, follows last year’s recognition that 2015 was the hottest year on record globally since measurements began in 1880.
February also marks the 10th consecutive month a monthly global record temperature has been broken.
The critical heat milestone in 2015 came as no surprise to scientists, who said in the fall that December would have to be extraordinarily cold for the year not to finish off in record warmth.
But December held with a multi-month trend and was the warmest December on record at 2 degrees higher than the monthly average.
“The reason why we record what’s going on at the surface is that’s where we live, that’s where we work, and that’s where we grow our food, so there is a critical impact as to surface temperatures,” said Thomas Karl, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
The Associated Press reported today that scientists were nearly speechless in their assessment of the February temperatures.
NOAA said Earth averaged 56.08 degrees (13.38 degrees Celsius) in February, 2.18 degrees (1.21 degrees Celsius) above average, beating the old record for February set in 2015 by nearly six-tenths of a degree (one-third of a degree Celsius). These were figures that had federal scientists grasping for superlatives.
“The departures are what we would consider astronomical,” NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden told the Associated Press. “It’s on land. It’s in the oceans. It’s in the upper atmosphere. It’s in the lower atmosphere. The Arctic had record low sea ice.”