Summary Information

The State of the Climate Summary Information is a synopsis of the collection of national and global summaries released each month.


Global Summary Information - February 2016

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Note: With this report and data release, the National Centers for Environmental Information is transitioning to improved versions of its global land (GHCN-M version 3.3.0) and ocean (ERSST version 4.0.0) datasets. Please note that anomalies and ranks reflect the historical record according to these updated versions. Historical months and years may differ from what was reported in previous reports. For more, please visit the associated FAQ and supplemental information.


February 2016 global temperature sets new record for highest monthly departure from average

December–February global temperature also sets record for highest departure from average for any 3-month period


Global highlights: February 2016

  • The February average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 2.18°F (1.21°C) above the 20th century average. This was not only the highest for February in the 1880–2016 record (surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.59°F / 0.33°C), but it surpassed the all-time monthly record set just two months ago in December 2015 by 0.16°F (0.09°C). February 2016 also marks the 10th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken.
  • The February globally-averaged land surface temperature was 4.16°F (2.31°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous records set in 1998 and 2015 by 1.13°F (0.63°C) and surpassing the all-time single-month record set in March 2008 by 0.77°F (0.43°C).
  • The February globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.46°F (0.81°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2010 by 0.36°F (0.20°C) , and was the sixth highest departure from average among all 1,632 months* in the record. The nine highest monthly global ocean temperature departures have all occurred in the past nine months (since July 2015).
  • The February temperature for the lower troposphere (roughly the lowest 5 miles of the atmosphere) was the highest in the 1979–2016 record, at 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) using version 5.6. It was also highest on record, at 1.57°F (0.87°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS). The February 2016 departures from average are also the highest for any month in the 38-year period of record, surpassing the previous record set in April 1998 by 0.43°F (0.24°C) for UAH and by 0.23°F (0.13°C) for RSS.
  • The February temperature for the mid-troposphere (roughly 2 miles to 6 miles above the surface) was the highest for this month in the 1979–2016 record, at 1.31°F (0.73°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by UAH. It was also highest on record, at 1.33°F (0.74°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by RSS. After removing the influence of temperatures above 6 miles in altitude, the University of Washington, using data analyzed by the UAH and RSS, calculated temperature departures from the 1981–2010 average to be 1.60°F (0.89°C) and 1.57°F (0.87°C), respectively, both highest in the record. The February 2016 departures from average are also the highest for any month in the 38-year period of record, surpassing the previous record set in April 1998 by 0.13°F (0.07°C) for UAH and by 0.09°F (0.05°C) for RSS.
  • The average Arctic sea ice extent for February was 450,000 square miles (7.54 percent) below the 1981–2010 average. This was the smallest February extent since records began in 1979 and 77,000 square miles smaller than the previous record of 2005. February 2016 also marked the second consecutive month of record low Arctic sea ice extent, according to analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center based on data from NOAA and NASA.
  • Antarctic sea ice during February was 110,000 square miles (9.54 percent) below the 1981–2010 average. This was the sixth smallest Antarctic sea ice extent for February in the 38-year period of record and the smallest since 2011.
  • According to data from NOAA analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during February was 800,000 square miles below the 1981–2010 average. This was the third smallest February Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in the 50-year period of record and smallest since 2002. The North American snow cover extent was the 13th smallest on record while the Eurasian snow cover extent was fourth smallest.
  • *-This number was originally reported as 1,644


Global highlights: Seasonal (December 2015–February 2016)

  • The December–February average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 2.03°F (1.13°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for December–February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.52°F (0.26°C). December 2015–February 2016 also marks the highest 3-month departure from average for any 3-month period on record, surpassing the previous record set last month, November 2015–January 2016, by 0.16°F (0.09°C).
  • The globally-averaged land surface temperature for December 2015–February 2016 was 3.47°F (1.93°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for December–February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record of 2015 by 0.83°F (0.46°C). December 2015–February 2016 also marks the highest 3-month departure from average for any 3-month period on record, surpassing the previous record of November 2015–January 2016 by 0.70°F (0.40°C).
  • The December–February globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.51°F (0.84°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for December–February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.40°F (0.22°C).
  • Global highlights: Year-to-date (January–February 2016)

    • The year-to-date temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 2.03°F (1.13°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for January–February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.52°F (0.29°C). January and February were both record warm for their respective months.
    • The year-to-date globally-averaged land surface temperature was the highest for January–February in the 1880–2016 record at 3.51°F (1.95°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for January–February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record of 2002 by 0.74°F (0.41°C).
    • The year-to-date globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.49°F (0.83°C) above the 20th century average and the highest for January–February in the 1880–2016 record. This was the highest for January–February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record of 2010 by 0.40°F (0.22°C).
    • For extended analysis of global temperature and precipitation patterns, please see our full February report