This year, the globe experienced the 17th warmest February since record keeping began in 1880, as the climate phenomenon La Niña continued to be a significant factor. Last month’s average Arctic sea ice extent tied with 2005 as the smallest extent for February in its 32-year period of record.

The monthly analysis from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.

Global Temperature Highlights – February

  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for February 2011 was the 17th warmest on record at 54.62 F (12.50 C), which is 0.72 F (0.40 C) above the 20th century average of 53.9 F (12.1 C). The margin of error associated with this temperature is +/- 0.18 F (0.10 C).
  • Separately, the global land surface temperature was 0.92 F (0.51 C) above the 20th century average of 37.8 F (3.2 C), which tied for the 28th warmest February on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.56 F (0.31 C). Warmer-than-average conditions occurred across most of Asia, central Africa, northern Alaska and southern Greenland. Cooler-than-average regions included Eastern Europe, western Russia, eastern Siberia and the western United States.
  • The February global ocean surface temperature was 0.65 F (0.36 C) above the 20th century average of 60.6 F (15.9 C), making it the 10th warmest February on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.13 F (0.07 C). The warmth was most pronounced across the northern Pacific Ocean, the tropical Atlantic Ocean and part of the North Atlantic near Greenland and Canada.

Global Temperature Highlights – December 2010 – February 2011

  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for Northern Hemisphere winter (December 2010 – February 2011) was 0.70 F (0.39 C) above the 20th century average of 53.8 F (12.1 C), making it the 16th warmest on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.16 F (0.09 C).
  • The December 2010 – February 2011 worldwide land surface temperature was 0.81 F (0.45 C) above the 20th century average of 37.8 F (3.2 C) — the 26th warmest such period on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.32 F (0.18 C). Warmer-than-average conditions were particularly felt across eastern Canada, southern Greenland and northern Siberia. Cooler-than-average regions included Eastern Europe, western Russia and Mongolia.
  • The global ocean surface temperature for December 2010 – February 2011 was 0.65 F (0.36 C) above the 20th century average of 60.5 F (15.8 C) and tied for the 10th warmest such period on record. The margin of error is +/-0.13 F (0.07 C). The warmth was most pronounced across the northern Pacific Ocean, the tropical Atlantic Ocean, and the North Atlantic, near Greenland and Canada.
  • La Niña conditions weakened in February, although sea-surface temperatures remained below normal across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, La Niña will continue to have global impacts for the next several months, but neither La Niña nor El Niño are expected to affect the region by June.