February marked Earth's 9th consecutive warmest month on record, according to new Copernicus report

Global sea surface temperatures remain at unprecedented levels

March 6, 2024, 10:00 PM

Planet Earth has now broken warmest-month records for nine months in a row, according to a new report by Copernicus, Europe's climate change service.

February 2024 broke global temperature records, rounding out the warmest winter on record in the Northern Hemisphere, from December 2023 through the end of February, at 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the average, the report, released Wednesday, found.

Average surface air temperature in February measured at 56.37 degrees Fahrenheit -- 1.46 degrees above the average from 1991 to 2020 and .22 degrees above the previous warmest February in 2016, according to Copernicus.

The month as a whole was 3.19 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than an estimate of the February average for 1850 to1900, the designated pre-industrial reference period set in the Paris Agreement.

Skiers deal with a dignificant decline in snow, at the Tanvaldsky Spicak ski resort in Albrechtice, Jizera Mountains, Czech Republic, on Feb. 29, 2024.
Radek Petrasek/CTK via ZUMA Press

March 2023 through February 2024 was the warmest 12-month stretch on record, with a global average temperature 2.81 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1850 to 1900 pre-industrial average.

Global sea surface temperatures across a majority of the world’s oceans remain at unprecedented levels as marine heatwaves persist around the globe, even with El Niño conditions beginning to weaken.

The average daily sea surface temperature hit a new all-time high of 69.96 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of February 2024.

Antarctic sea ice extent dipped to its third-lowest value on record for the month of February, 28% below average. Arctic sea ice extent was 2% below average for the month. While this is not as low as recent years, the February 2024 extent is well below the values observed in the 1980s and 1990s.

Rough seas are shown in the Atlantic Ocean.
STOCK IMAGE/Getty Images

The month of February featured a continuation of drier-than-average conditions across much of South America, including Chile. The dry conditions, largely fueled by El Niño, contributed to wildfires that devastated parts of the country.

Greenhouse gases, the primary culprit for global warming, have continued to climb in recent years, although at incrementally slower rates across some categories, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency.

Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions grew by 1.1% in 2023, reaching a new record high of 37.4 billion tonnes, an increase of 410 million tonnes from the previous year, the report found. Emissions from coal accounted for more than 65% of the increase in 2023.

However, expansion and implementation of clean energy alternatives around the world is slowing down the rate the global energy-related CO2 emissions, according to the report. The 2023 increase is slower than the 1.3% that was observed in 2022.

PHOTO: A cyclist travels around Lake Michigan near the Adler Planetarium, on Feb. 26, 2024, in Chicago.
A cyclist travels around Lake Michigan near the Adler Planetarium, on Feb. 26, 2024, in Chicago. A warm front is sweeping spring-like weather across a large swath of the country in what is usually one of the coldest months of the year. The rare warmup is sending people out of their homes to enjoy the winter respite but also bringing increased wildfire danger.
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

The shortfall in hydropower generation due to droughts around the world drove up emissions by around 170 million tonnes. The global generation of hydropower saw a record decline in 2023, primarily driven by prolonged extreme droughts that impacted major hydropower regions, exacerbated by the influence of a strong El Niño.

Over the last decade, global CO2 energy-related emissions have grown by slightly more than 0.5% per year, this is the slowest rate since the Great Depression.

Clean energy is playing a major role in this slowdown and having a significant impact on the trajectory of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Since 2019, the emissions growth would have been three times larger without the expansion of five key clean energy technologies, including electric cars, wind, solar PV, nuclear and heat pumps.

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