Last month’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made it the sixth warmest February ever recorded. Additionally, the December 2009 – February 2010 period was the fifth warmest on record averaged for any similar three-month Northern Hemisphere winter-Southern Hemisphere summer season, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.
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Separately, the average global ocean surface temperature for both February and the December-February season was second warmest on record, behind 1998. The global land surface temperature for February 2010 tied with 1992 as the 14th warmest on record, while December-February period was the 13th warmest on record.
Global Highlights – February
- The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for February 2010 was the sixth warmest on record, at 1.08 degrees F (0.60 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 53.9 degrees F (12.1 degrees C).
- The global land surface temperature for February 2010 was 1.35 degrees F (0.75 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 37.8 degrees F (3.2 degrees C)—tying with 1992 as the 14th warmest February on record.
- Anomalously cool conditions were widespread across the contiguous United States, Mexico, Europe and Russia. Overall, the United Kingdom had its coolest February since 1991, and the Irish Republic, its coolest February since 1986.
- Warmer-than-average temperatures enveloped much of the rest of the world’s land areas, with the warmest temperature anomalies occurring across Alaska, Canada and across the Middle East and northern Africa.
- The February worldwide ocean temperature was the second warmest, behind 1998, on record. The temperature anomaly was 0.97 degrees F (0.54 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 60.6 degrees F (15.9 degrees C).
- A moderate-to-strong El Niño continued in February. Sea surface temperatures across parts of the equatorial Pacific Ocean were more than 2.7 degrees F (1.5 degrees C) above average during the month. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, El Niño is expected to continue at least through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2010.
Global Highlights – December 2009 – February 2010
- The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for December-February was 54.8 degrees F (12.7 degrees C), which is the fifth warmest on record and 1.03 degrees F (0.57 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 53.8 degrees F (12.1 degrees C).
- The worldwide land surface temperature for December-February was 1.15 degrees F (0.64 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 37.8 degrees F (3.2 degrees C) – the 13th warmest on record. (Cool temperatures enveloped much of Europe, Russia, Mexico, central and southeastern contiguous U.S., southern Chile, southern Argentina and parts of northern Australia.)
- The United Kingdom had its coolest Northern Hemisphere winter since 1978-1979. The Irish Republic experienced its coolest winter since 1962-1963. Conversely, much of Australia was engulfed by warmer-than-average conditions. The warmth was concentrated in Western Australia, resulting in the warmest December-February period on record.
- The worldwide ocean surface temperature was 0.97 degrees F (0.54 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 60.5 degrees F (15.8 degrees C) and the second warmest December-February on record, behind 1998.
- Arctic sea ice covered an average of 5.6 million square miles (14.6 million square kilometers) during February. This is 6.8 percent below the 1979-2000 average extent and the fourth lowest February extent since records began in 1979. This was also the 12th consecutive February with below-average Arctic sea ice extent. February Arctic sea ice extent has decreased by 2.9 percent per decade since 1979.
- Antarctic sea ice extent in February was 7.3 percent above the 1979-2000 average, resulting in the eighth largest February extent on record. February Antarctic sea ice extent has increased by 3.1 percent per decade over the same period.
- Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during February was the third largest on record, behind 1978 and 1972. North American snow cover for February was also the third largest extent since satellite records began in 1967—behind 1978 and 1979. Northern Hemisphere December-February snow cover during December 2009 -February 2010 was the second largest extent, behind 1978. North American snow cover for December-February 2010 was the largest extent on record.
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