Earth Experienced Its Second-hottest February on Record This Year, NOAA Says

Earth just experienced its second hottest February on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI.)

Average global temperatures for February 2020 were the second highest for the month of February in climate records going back to 1880, the agency said.

This average global land and ocean surface temperature was 2.11°F above the 20th century average of 53.8°F. This is also the third-highest monthly temperature departure from the average on record.

Significantly, the 10 warmest Februarys on Earth have all occurred since 1998. And February 2020 is the 422nd consecutive month where temperatures have been above the 20th century average.

The Northern Hemisphere also experienced its second-warmest February on record with a departure from average of 2.84°F. Likewise, the average temperature for the Southern Hemisphere was 1.37°F above average this February, tying with 2017 and 2019 for second-warmest on record.

"The most notable warmer-than-average February 2020 temperatures were present across much of western and central Russia, parts of eastern Europe, and Kazakhstan, where temperatures were 9°F above average or higher," the NOAA said. "The most notable cool temperature departures from average during February were observed across much of Alaska and parts of northern Canada and Far East Russia, with temperatures at least 5.4°F below average."

"Record-warm February surface temperatures were present across parts of the Atlantic, Indian and western Pacific oceans, as well as parts of northern South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. No land or ocean areas had record-cold February temperatures," according to the NOAA.

February 2020, climate anomalies
A map showing climate anomalies and events for February 2020. NOAA

Furthermore, Asia and the Caribbean region both experienced their warmest Februaries on record, with temperatures of 7.36°F and 1.96°F above average, respectively.

According to the NOAA, this past winter in the Northern Hemisphere — December to February — was tied for the second-warmest ever, with Europe and Asia recorded their warmest ever winters. Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere recorded its second-warmest summer on record.

The warm temperatures experienced in February also had an impact on sea ice, with coverage below average at both poles.

"The month saw Arctic sea ice coverage at four percent below the 1981 – 2010 average, while coverage in the Antarctic was 6.5 percent below average. Still, Antarctica saw its highest February sea ice extent since 2015," according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

A statistical analysis conducted by NCEI scientists predicts that 2020 is very likely to be among the five warmest years on record. Currently, the warmest years on record are — in order starting with the hottest — 2016, 2019, 2015, 2017, and 2018.