Global average surface temperatures in February 2016 broke the monthly record by the widest ever margin, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The December-February seasonal temperature was also the highest on record.
The NOAA report confirmed data from NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency of an exceptional surge in temperatures. The three agencies use different datasets and different base periods. The February temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.21°C (2.18°F) above the 20th century average, according to NOAA. It was the highest departure from average among all 1,646 months on record. 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.
The December-February 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 in 2015 by 0.52°F (0.29°C). December 2015-February 2016 also marks the highest 3-month departure from average for any 3-month period on record.