February was warmest on record globally, say scientists

Last month was the warmest February on record globally, making it the ninth month in a row with record temperatures for the time of year, scientists have said.

The data shows February was 1.77°C warmer than the pre-industrial average for the month, from 1850 to 1900, and 0.81°C above 1991-2020 levels. The global average temperature for the past 12 months – between March 2023 and February 2024 – was the highest on record, at 1.56°C above pre-industrial levels.

That puts the world temporarily above the 1.5°C threshold beyond which, over the long term, the worst impacts of climate change are expected.

Daily global average temperatures were “exceptionally high” during the first half of the month, reaching 2°C above 1850-1900 levels on four days from 8 to 11 February, Copernicus said.

European temperatures in February 2024 were 3.3°C above the 1991-2020 average for the month, with temperatures well above average seen in central and eastern Europe, the figures showed. Europe’s winter, from December to February, was the second warmest on record for the continent.

Average global sea surface temperatures for February, outside the polar regions, were the highest for any month on record, at 21.06°C, exceeding the previous record of 20.98°C set in August 2023. The average daily sea surface temperature reached a new absolute high of 21.09°C at the end of the month, Copernicus said.

Icicle melting in the sun

Photo by Oleg Gospodarec on Unsplash