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February temperatures shock scientists

WASHINGTON – Earth got so hot last month that federal scientists struggled to find words describing temperatures.

February 2016 obliterated old marks by such a margin that it was the most above-normal month since meteorologists started keeping track in 1880, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The previous record was set just last December, and the past three months have been the most above-normal months on record, said NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden. NASA as well as teams at University of Alabama Huntsville and the private Remote Sensing System, which measure using satellites, also said February far exceeded the record normal.

NOAA said Earth averaged 56.08 degrees in February, 2.18 degrees above average, beating the record for February set in 2015 by nearly six-tenths of a degree.

“The departures are what we would consider astronomical,” Blunden said. “It’s on land. It’s in the oceans. It’s in the upper atmosphere. It’s in the lower atmosphere. The Arctic had record low sea ice.”

“Everything everywhere is a record this month, except Antarctica,” Blunden said. “It’s insane.”

In the Arctic, where sea ice reached a record low for February, land temperatures averaged 8 degrees above normal, Blunden said. That’s after January, when Arctic land temperatures were 10.4 degrees above normal(5.8 degrees Celsius).

Worldwide, February 2016 was warmer than about 125 of the last 136 Marches.

Said Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb in a Thursday email: “When I look at the new February 2016 temperatures, I feel like I’m looking at something out of a sci-fi movie. … It is a portent of things to come, and it is sobering that such temperature extremes are already on our doorstep.”


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