February Had the Most Above-Average Temperatures on Record

GERMANY-WEATHER-FEATURE

The full article by Justin Worland was originally written for TIME

Here’s why that matters

Global temperatures in February were the most above average since weather record keeping began nearly 150 years ago, bringing the world the closest it has ever been to what scientists consider dangerous levels of warming, a federal government agency confirmed Thursday.

The average temperature across the globe in February reached 13.3°C (56°F), according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That’s 1.2°C (2.2°F) higher than the average global temperature in February during the 20th century. NOAA’s findings confirm those released earlier this month by NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency that both show February as the most unusually hot month on record.

“If you look back in the historical temperature curve, it’s hard to find a monthly spike that was as large as this one,” says Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University. “That’s how we will see the effects of climate change: the extremes will become more extreme and bring the world the closest it’s ever been to dangerous warming.”

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February Had the Most Above-Average Temperatures on Record