Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with February 2017 marking not only the second warmest February on record but also closing out the planet’s second warmest meteorological winter.
According to the State of the Climate report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for February – over both land and sea surfaces – was 55.66°F, which is 1.76°F above the 20th-century average. Only February 2016 was warmer.
This February also marked the 386th consecutive month with a global temperature above its long-term norm. That means the last time any month posted a below average reading was December 1984.
The three-month period of December, January, and February – meteorological winter in the northern hemisphere – was also unusually warm. NOAA reports that Earth’s average temperature for the season was 1.60°F above the 20th century average of 53.8°F. That makes it the second warmest winter on record, trailing only the 2015-16 season.
While heat dominated most of the planet this winter, some places were particularly warm, including much of North America and Asia. Here in the contiguous US, it was our sixth warmest winter on record.
Coming on the heels of a five-month long La Niña event, which had a modest cooling effect, these soaring temperatures are largely attributed to the long-term trend of human-caused climate change.
Global temperature records date back to 1880.