With Winter 2017 mostly missing in action for many areas in the Northern Hemisphere, it appeared by the end of February that spring had sprung early — or was, at the very least, just around the corner. Balmy seasonal temperatures were also felt in numerous locations around the globe.
The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for February 2017 was the second highest for the month of February in the NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880. The December–February seasonal and year to date global temperatures were also second warmest on record.
Climate by the Numbers
February 2017’s average global temperature was 1.76 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 53.9 degrees, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. This was the second warmest February in the 1880-2017 record, behind 2016.
The average temperature from December through February was 1.60 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 53.8 degrees. This was the second warmest for this period, just behind 2015-2016.
Year to Date
The year to date (January through February 2017) average temperature was 1.69 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 53.8 degrees. This was the second-warmest first two months of the year in the record, behind last year.
Other notable climate events and facts around the world last month included:
Continued record-low sea ice extent at the poles
The average Arctic sea ice extent was 7.6 percent below the 1981-2010 average for February, and the average Antarctic sea ice extent was 24.4 percent below average. Both regions logged the smallest February sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979.
Above-average snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere
The Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent was the 22nd largest in the 51-year record. North America had its 15th smallest, while Eurasia had its 19th largest.
Warmer-than-average lands and oceans
Both the globally averaged sea surface temperature and the land surface temperature ranked as second highest on record for February, the December-to-February season and the year to date.
Continents experienced temperature highs and lows
South America had its third warmest February on record; North America, its fourth; Asia, it’s eighth; Africa, its 10th; Europe, its 17th (tied with 1997); and Oceania, its 25th.