Sunday, 6 March 2016


University of Alabama Huntsville, 1 March 2016

By a statistically significant amount, February 2016 was the warmest month in the satellite temperature record, according to Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Interestingly, however, that record might have as much to do with an extraordinarily warm month in the Arctic as it does with warming caused by the El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event.

Globally, the average temperature anomaly in February (+0.83 C) was warmer than the previous record set in April 1998 (+0.74 C) during the so-called “El Niño of the century.”

In the Northern Hemisphere, the February anomaly (+1.17 C) was a full 0.32 C (0.58 F) warmer than the previous NH record (+0.85 C) set in April 1998. Temperatures in the tropics and the Southern Hemisphere were not at record levels in February.


While the Arctic temperature anomaly is large, big temperature swings in the Arctic region aren’t unusual, especially during the winter months. Those swings are also normally somewhat transient, so the extra heat represented in February could dissipate over the next few weeks. If that happens, it doesn’t appear the heat from the El Niño by itself will be enough to continue pushing temperatures to new records later in the year, in which case this February anomaly might stand out as a singular spike in the dataset rather than part of an ongoing trend.

The warmest months in the satellite temperature record are:

Warmest Months, Global -- How much warmer than seasonal norms
Feb. 2016   0.83 C
Apr.  1998    0.74 C
Feb.  1998    0.65 C
May  1998    0.64 C
June 1998    0.57 C
Jan.  2016    0.54 C
Aug. 1998    0.52 C
Mar.  2010    0.50 C
Jan.  1998    0.48 C
Mar.  1998    0.47 C
Feb.  2010    0.47 C

Warmest NH Months
Feb. 2016   1.17 C
Apr.  1998    0.85 C
Jan.  2016    0.70 C
Feb.  1998    0.66 C
July  1998    0.65 C
Oct.  2015    0.63 C
June 1998    0.60 C
Jan.  2010    0.60 C
May  2010    0.60 C
Mar.  2010    0.59 C

Warmest Februaries, Global
2016  0.83 C
1998   0.65 C
2010   0.47 C
2002   0.30 C
2003   0.25 C
2004   0.25 C
2007   0.19 C
2015   0.19 C
2005   0.18 C
2006   0.17 C
1999   0.17 C

Compared to seasonal norms, the warmest average temperature anomaly on Earth in February was over north central Russia, near the small town of Beloyarsky. February temperatures there averaged 5.20 C (about 9.36 degrees F) warmer than seasonal norms. Compared to seasonal norms, the coolest average temperature on Earth in February was over the Sea of Okhotsk, between the Russian mainland and the Kamchatka Peninsula, where the average February 2016 temperature was 3.25 C (about 5.85 degrees F) cooler than normal for February.

The complete version 6 beta lower troposphere dataset is available here:

Archived color maps of local temperature anomalies are available on-line at:

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