(CN) – As the world struggles to contain a pandemic virus, climate scientists on Friday reminded humanity of another imminent crisis facing the planet – climate change – and ranked last month as the second-hottest February in 141 years.
The last three months of December through February were identified as the second warmest winter on record for the Northern Hemisphere and the second hottest summer for the Southern Hemisphere, surpassed only by the winter of 2015-2016, according a report by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Additionally, global land and ocean surface temperatures rose 2.09 degrees above the 20th century average in the first two months of 2020, making it almost the warmest such period in 141 years, second only to the same period in 2016.
Asia and the Caribbean region had their warmest February on record with temperatures spiking 7.36 degrees and 1.96 degrees above normal, respectively. It was the first time temperatures rose more than 1.8 degrees above average in the Caribbean islands in a single month, tying with September 2005 as the starkest departure from average temperatures in that region. In Asia, it was the second biggest shift from average temperatures behind March 2008, marking only the second time the temperature rose more than 7.2 degrees above average there.
The most significant higher-than-average temperatures last month were recorded in western and central Russia and parts of Eastern Europe and Kazakhstan, where temperatures spiked to at least 9 degrees above average. Conversely, temperatures dipped at least 5.4 degrees below average in much of Alaska and parts of northern Canada and in far east Russia.
Several countries in Europe saw record high temperatures last month. Many areas of southern France saw temperatures soaring above 68 degrees Fahrenheit. In Spain, the average temperature was 5.4 degrees above average. Austria’s average temperature rose 7.4 degrees above average, tying with 2002 as the second warmest February in 253 years.
Other parts of the globe experienced near record-high temperatures in February as well. Hong Kong had its sixth warmest February on record, spiking 4.5 degrees above average. Australia had its 10th warmest February in 111 years. New Zealand had its 11th warmest February with temperatures rising nearly 2 degrees above the 1981-2010 average.
A new all-time maximum high temperature of 65.1 degrees was also detected in Antarctica on Feb. 6, according to Argentina’s National Weather Service.
Arctic daily sea ice growth last month was 4% below the 1981-2010 average. Antarctica saw its 13th smallest amount of sea ice measured in February since satellite records began recording in 1979, tying February 1981.
Snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere was also found to be 810,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average, making it the third smallest snow cover in February in 54 years.
Scientists with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information predict that 2020 will likely rank as one of the five warmest years on record.