The average global temperature in February 2106 was about 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the previous record (February 1998), according to an analysis by NASA scientists. February 2016 was 1.35 degrees Celsius above the 1951–1980 average. The month of February 1998 was 0.88°C above it. Both records were set during strong El Niño events.
Last month’s difference from the base line marked the greatest monthly departure on record. The next biggest departure happened just the month before, in January 2016.
Almost all land surfaces on Earth experienced unusually warm temperatures in February 2016. The warmest temperatures occurred in Asia, North America, and the Arctic. Two of the exceptions were the Kamchatka Peninsula and a small portion of southeast Asia, which saw unusually cool temperatures. In the map about, note the clear fingerprint of El Niño in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
Meteorologists Jeff Masters and Bob Henson at Weather Underground said:
This result is a true shocker, and yet another reminder of the incessant long-term rise in global temperature resulting from human-produced greenhouse gases.
Bottom line: NASA reports that February 2016 was the warmest February in 136 years of modern temperature records.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.