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NOAA: global combined land and sea temperatures 22nd warmest on record for February, 17th warmest for Dec-Feb period

While the contiguous United States just experienced the fourth warmest winter on record, the globe experienced its 22nd warmest February since record keeping began in 1880, according to the latest State of the Climate report from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the December–February period was 0.74°F (0.41°C) above the 20th century average of 53.8°F (12.1°C), making it the 17th warmest such period since records began in 1880 and coolest December–February since 2008. The margin of error is ±0.16°F (0.09°C).

Feb. 2012 selected climate anomalies and events. Source: NOAA NCDC. Click to enlarge.

The December–February worldwide land surface temperature was 1.06°F (0.59°C) above the 20th century average, the 20th warmest such period on record. The margin of error is ±0.38°F (0.21°C). The global ocean surface temperature for the same period was 0.59°F (0.33°C) above the 20th century average and 15th warmest such period on record. The margin of error is ±0.07°F (0.04°C).

Warmer-than-normal temperatures were observed across most of North America, most of northern Europe and Asia, and southern South America. Cooler-than-normal temperatures were felt across western and central Alaska, far eastern Russia, the Middle East, central and eastern mainland Asia, the southern half of Australia, and northwestern Africa.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for February 2012 was the 22nd warmest in the 133-year period of record and coolest since 2008, at 54.57°F (12.47°C), which is 0.67°F (0.37°C) above the 20th century average of 53.9°F (12.1°C). The margin of error associated with this temperature is ±0.20°F (0.11°C).
  • Looking only at land, the global land surface temperature was 0.68°F (0.38°C) above the 20th century average of 37.8°F (3.2°C), making this the 37th warmest February on record and coolest February since 1994. It was also the coolest month on record since January 2008. The margin of error is ±0.61°F (0.34°C).

    Warmer-than-average conditions occurred across nearly all of Canada and Alaska, the eastern half of the United States, southern Greenland, and north central Russia. Cooler-than-average regions included northeastern Africa, most of Europe and central Asia, and much of Australia.

  • For the ocean, the February global sea surface temperature was 0.65°F (0.36°C) above the 20th century average of 60.6°F (15.9°C), making it the 12th warmest February on record. The margin of error is ±0.07°F (0.04°C). The warmth was most pronounced across the north central Pacific, the North Atlantic, much of the eastern Indian Ocean, and portions of the mid-latitude Southern oceans.

  • The Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent for February was the eighth highest monthly extent in the 46-year period of record. The North American snow cover extent was the 16th lowest February extent on record, while the Eurasian snow cover was the third highest February.

  • Arctic sea ice extent was the fifth lowest extent on record for February at 6.9% below average.

  • On the opposite pole, the Antarctic sea ice extent during February was 20.3% above average, the fifth highest on record.

  • La Niña conditions continued to weaken during February. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, La Niña is expected to dissipate by the end of April.



You could had that many areas in Canada had their all-time warmest winter.


This is the new "natural variation" - even a cold La Nina year produces warmer than average temperatures.


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