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Climate bulletin - February 2017

Summary of the world's climate system in February 2017

The global average temperature for February 2017 as estimated from the HadCRUT4 data set was 0.85±0.13°C above the 1961-1990 average. Globally February 2017 was between the 2nd and 5th warmest Februarys on record and most likely 2nd warmest. Global temperature data sets maintained by NASA GISS and NOAA NCEI also show that February was a very warm month globally. Sea-surface temperatures in much of the tropical Pacific were near average indicating neutral ENSO conditions. However, SSTs in the eastern Tropical Pacific, close to the coast of South America, were warmer than average.

The global average land temperature for February 2017 was 1.57 ± 0.30°C above the 1961-1990 average. For global land areas February 2017 was nominally the 2nd warmest February on record and very likely in the top ten. Unusual warmth – temperatures exceeding the 90th percentile for the month – was recorded in the southern and eastern USA (16 states were record warm), southern parts of South America, Madagascar, areas of southern and eastern Asia, eastern Australia, areas of West Africa, parts of the Mediterranean as well as Iceland and other Arctic islands. Although the anomalies were large in other parts of northeast Asia, this is an area that often sees large temperature fluctuations during the winter months and the anomalies were not unusual in the longer-term context.  Unusual cold – temperatures below the 10th percentile for the month – affected a small area of southwest Australia.

The global average sea-surface temperature for February 2017 was 0.52 ± 0.08°C above the 1961-1990 average, nominally the second warmest on record and very likely one of the four warmest. Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific were near average with some areas warmer and some cooler than the long-term mean, indicating neutral ENSO conditions. However, in the east, near the coast of South America anomalies locally exceeded 4°C.  Unusually-warm waters were recorded across large areas of the north Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico to the Norwegian Sea. Areas of the Pacific around 30°S and 30°N were unusually warm as were parts of the southwest Atlantic and the southern Indian Ocean. Waters off the east coast of Australia were also unusually warm. Persistently high sea-surface temperatures in this region have been associated with a mass coral bleaching for a second consecutive year according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Unusually cold waters were observed in the north Pacific around 45°N, in limited areas of the South Atlantic, the eastern Indian Ocean and in an area to the south of Greenland and Iceland.

Higher than average precipitation totals (based on the monthly first-guess analysis by Global Precipitation Climatology Centre GPCC) were recorded across the west coast of the US (greatly reducing the area affected by extreme drought), large areas of southern Africa, western Australia. An area stretching between South Sudan and Ethiopia in the south and Kazakhstan in the north and passing through Saudi Arabia and Iran, was both wetter and colder than average. Drier-than-average conditions were experienced in eastern Australia, around the Mediterranean, southeast China, and the southeast of the US.

According to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the US, Northern hemisphere (Arctic) sea ice extent was 14.28 million square kilometres. February 2017 was nominally the least extensive February ice on record. From 1st October to the end of February 2017 (151 days) only 41 days did not set new daily records for low Arctic sea-ice extent. Southern hemisphere (Antarctic) sea ice extent was 2.35 million square kilometres. February 2017 was nominally the least extensive February on record here. Since 1st November 2016, only one day did not set a new daily record for low Antarctic sea-ice extent. For more details and analysis of the winter ice-extents, see the sea-ice monitoring brief.




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