NOAA State of the Climate Report– February 2017

Global Warming Evidence Mounts Across Sea & Land

Earth experienced its second hottest February since records were first taken in 1880, reveals the monthly State of the Climate report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The combined average temperature over land and ocean surfaces was 0.98°C above the 20th century average of 12.1°C — a number only topped by the +1.20°C record set in February 2016.

It was also seventh highest monthly temperature departure among all 1646 months on record, and the 41st consecutive February and the 386th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average.

The NOAA also reports that the February global land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of +0.07°C per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase is twice as great since 1980.

The land temperature was 1.78°C above the 20th century average of 3.2°C and the second highest for the month on record, trailing behind 2016 by 0.50°C and ahead of 2015 by 0.09°C. This was also the highest monthly departure from average since April 2016 (+1.86°C) and the seventh highest among all months on record.

The most notable warm temperature departures from average (3°C–5°C above the 1981–2010 average) were recorded across much of the U.S., southeastern Canada – Ontario experienced spring-like temperatures, setting several new daily maximum marks – and central and eastern Russia.


Australia’s hot summer continues

Record warmth was limited to the eastern U.S. and northern and southern Mexico, but warmer to much-warmer-than-average conditions were present across much of the world.

Four of the six continents had at least a top 10 warm February since continental records began in 1910. North America had the warmest February since 2000 and the fourth warmest February on record. South America had its third warmest February on record, while Europe had the coldest February since 2013 and the 17th warmest February on record.

Australia’s oppressive summer continued with warmer-than-average temperatures, with a national average 0.33°C above the 1961–1990 average. New South Wales and Queensland had their highest temperature departure from average since 2004 and 2006, respectively, and the fifth highest in the 108-year record. South Australia also had above average conditions.

No land reported record cold February temperatures, but near to cooler-than-average conditions were observed across Alaska, western parts of Canada and mainland U.S., northeastern Africa, the Middle East and much of central and western Australia, with monthly temperatures between 0.50°C–2.50°C below average.

At sea, the globally-averaged surface temperature was 0.69°C above the 20th century average of 15.9°C, the second highest for the month on record, behind the record-breaking year 2016 (+0.80°C) and besting 2015 by +0.08°C. February 2017 was the highest monthly temperature departure from average since October 2016 (+0.72°C) and the 22nd highest of all months on record.


Fiji hit by deluge

The NOAA report says the average Arctic sea ice extent was 455,600 square miles (7.6 percent) below the 1981–2010 average. This was the smallest February extent since records began in 1979 and 39,885 square kilometres smaller than the previous record set in 2016, according to an analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre based on data from NOAA and NASA.

The Antarctic sea ice extent was 751,096 square kilometres (24.4 percent) below the 1981–2010 average. This was the smallest February Antarctic sea ice extent since records began in 1979 and 155,399 square kilometres smaller than the previous record set in 1997.

Fiji recorded the most volatile rain spikes. According to the island nation’s Meteorological Service, 12 out of 23 stations received twice their normal monthly rainfall, with Matuku and Ono-i-lau in the southern Lau Group recorded triple their normal monthly rainfall.

Several stations across the Lau Group set new daily high rainfall for February; Ono-i-Lau received a total of 198.4 mm on February 5.