February 2016 warmest month ever on record

Photo: Surface temperature analysis for February 2016 SourceNASA/GISS

Prior to the official statistics being released, February 2016 was already being labelled as the warmest month on record. NASA have now confirmed that global average temperatures for February 2016 were 1.35°C warmer than the mean. 

This is now the third month in a row where Earth’s global temperatures have been abnormally warm. January 2016 briefly held the record for the warmest month, however February 2016 has now exceed that by 0.2°C.  

Top Five NASA Global Monthly Warm Anomalies (°C) Since 1880

February 2016         +1.35°C

January 2016          +1.13°C

December 2015       + 1.11°C

October 2015           + 1.06°C

November 2015       +1.02°C

February 2016 is the 372nd consecutive month in a row that was globally warmer than average. Prior to 2016, the warmest February on record came in 1998, another year with a strong El Niño. You have to go back to February 1985 to find the last time a month had colder than average temperatures in NASA’s database. NASA’s global temperature data is measured from a 1951-1980 baseline. 

Separate analysis from ECMWF found temperatures were 0.86°C above the February average for 1981-2010. Despite variations between datasets in the exact values, there is good agreement that recent months have been exceptionally warm, with a sustained period of above-average values from 2001 onwards. Separate analyses from the Japanese Meteorological Agency and NOAA will be released in the coming week.

Looking in more detail, temperatures over the northern Barents Sea and north-western Russia exceeded 10°C above average values for the month of February. Widespread areas across Eastern Europe, from Finland down to Greece, were 5°C warmer than normal. Despite the record month, a few places were cooler than average, including northern parts of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as over and around most of Antarctica.