A melt pond in the Arctic ice.
Credit: Stefan Hendricks, Alfred Wegener Institute.
Last month was among the top 10 warmest Februaries for the planet since record keeping began in 1880, U.S. weather officials announced today (March 14).
February 2013 tied with 2003 as the 9th warmest February of the past 133 years, according to scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). They calculated last month's globally-averaged temperature at 54.93 degrees Fahrenheit (12.67 degrees Celsius), or 1.03 degrees F (0.57 degrees C), above the 20th century average of 53.9 degrees F (12.1 degrees C).
This means February 2013 was the 336th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average February, in terms of temperature, was in 1985.
"Many areas of the world experienced higher-than-average monthly temperatures, including eastern Europe, western Russia, the Middle East, much of Canada, and southern Greenland," a statement from NOAA said. "Meanwhile, northern and western Alaska, far northwestern Canada, a large swath of the contiguous United States, western Europe, northwestern Africa, Siberia, Mongolia, and most of the eastern Pacific Ocean were notably below average."
Last year was the 9th warmest year for the globe since 1880. Of the top nine, eight have come since the year 2000, with 2005 and 2010 sharing the dubious title of hottest year on record. Climate scientists have attributed the trend to global warming caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.