Copernicus ECMWF: Global Temperature Reaches New Height in February


Surface air temperature anomaly for February 2016 relative to the February average for the period 1981-2010. Source: ERA-Interim.

Analysis by Copernicus ECMWF shows that the global temperature anomaly in February was by some margin the highest monthly value ever recorded. Temperatures ranged from 5 to 15 °C above average over significant parts of Europe, Russia and the Arctic.

Exceptional regional temperatures
Temperatures for February 2016 were:

  • more than 5 °C above the 1981-2010 average for the month over a region stretching from Finland to Greece and extending eastwards to western Siberia, Kazakhstan and the northern Middle East;
  • more than 10 °C above average over the northern Barents Sea and north-western Russia;
  • more than 5 °C above average also over much of the Arctic Ocean, for which the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reports a record low February sea-ice extent in 2016, and over parts of Alaska and western Canada.

A period of extreme global warmth
February 2016 was the most exceptional month yet in a spell of exceptional months. Globally, the average temperature for the month was:

  • close to 0.9 °C above the February average for 1981-2010;
  • almost 0.5 °C higher than the previous highest February value, which was reached in both 2010 and 2015.

Each of the five months from October 2015 has been more extreme in terms of global warmth than any previous month since records began. October 2015 was the first month in which the global-mean temperature anomaly exceeded 0.6 °C, and January 2016 was the first month in which the anomaly exceeded 0.7 °C.

The twelve months ending February 2016 were the warmest 12 months on record, with a global temperature 0.50 °C above the 1981-2010 average. The corresponding temperature for the twelve months of 2015, the warmest calendar year on record, was 0.44 °C.

For a more detailed analysis and maps