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The world just experienced the hottest February on record

February was the ninth month in a row to set a global heat record, with global average temperatures 1.77°C above the pre-industrial average for the month

The planet just experienced the hottest February on record, with global average temperature rising 1.77°C above the pre-industrial average for the month, according to a bulletin from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). That makes it the ninth month in a row to set a monthly heat record.

“As remarkable as this might appear, it is not really surprising as the continuous warming of the climate system inevitably leads to new temperature extremes,” said Carlo Buontempo at C3S in a statement.

Europe saw particularly anomalous heat in February, with average temperatures rising 3.3°C above the monthly average for 1991 to 2020. High temperatures and dry weather also drove fires in North and South America, including the deadliest wildfire in Chile’s history, and conditions were unusually warm across much of the rest of the world’s land masses.

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The ocean heat was even more extreme, with average global sea surface temperature in February edging out August 2023 for the hottest month at sea on record. The average sea surface temperature of 21.09°C recorded on a single day at the end of February was the hottest daily record, and sea ice in both the Arctic and Antarctic was below average.

Richard Allan at the University of Reading in the UK says the record heat both on land and in the oceans is primarily due to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, combined with the warming influence of the El Niño climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean. A reduction of reflective aerosols thanks to lower air pollution also contributed to the heat in some places, he says.

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