Temperatures across the globe during February 2017 were the second warmest for any February since records started being kept in 1880, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and two other independent analyses.
Global average temperatures across land and ocean surfaces for February were 1.76 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average of 53.8 degrees. Taking January and February 2017 together, the average global temperature was 1.69 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, just slightly cooler than 2016.
Land surface temperatures were 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average and the second highest on record.
Earth’s oceans also were warmer than average. Sea surface temperatures in February were the second highest on record, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). These calculations are in line with another analysis from the Japan Meteorological Agency, which also found February 2017 to be the second warmest since records began in 1891.
Scientists continue to see record-low sea ice extent at both poles. In the Arctic, sea ice extent in February was 7.6 percent below 1981-2010 averages, while the average Antarctic sea ice extent was 24.4 below normal.
“Both regions logged the smallest February sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979,” wrote NOAA.
For skiers and other snow enthusiasts, February was a great month. Snow cover extent in the Northern Hemisphere was 150,000 square miles above the 1981-2010 average, according to the analysis of NOAA data by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab.
Regions that experienced the warmest temperatures in February 2017 were the central and eastern United States, along with parts of Canada, Mexico, and Asia. Areas that were cooler than average include the Middle East, western Australia, northeast Africa, southwest Canada, Baffin Island, and parts of the north and central equatorial Pacific Ocean, GISS reported.
Year-to-date average land surface temperatures across the globe were 2.99 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average of 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit, the second highest for any January-February period recorded, behind 2016. North America, NOAA noted, had its fourth warmest February on record.
NOAA provides monthly summaries on the state of the climate to the government, business, universities, and the general public in an effort to support informed decision-making.