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February 2024 was hottest on record, EU climate agency says

March 7, 2024

Last month was the warmest February ever recorded, scientists say. It was also the ninth month in a row to see record-high global temperatures.

People watch the sunset at a park on an unseasonably warm February day in Kansas City
Scientists said the amount by which records had been smashed was alarmingImage: Charlie Riedel/AP Photo/picture alliance

The European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) on Thursday said global heat records had been shattered for a ninth month in succession.

The latest record-breaking data included sea surface temperatures that were not only the hottest for any February, but eclipsed those of any month on record.

How the figures break down

February 2024 had an average surface air temperature of 13.54 degrees Celsius — 1.77 degrees warmer than an estimate of the preindustrial February average for 1850-1900.

Last month, Copernicus said monthly temperatures from February 2023 to January 2024 had consistently been 1.52 degrees Celsius above the same benchmark. It was the time this had ever been observed over 12 months.

However, the global temperature spanning the year from March 1 last year up to and including February 2024 was even higher — at 1.56 degrees above the 1850-1900 average.

What does it mean?

Climate scientists say most of the record heat is because of human-caused greenhouse emissions but that some of it also comes from the natural El Nino warming pattern of the central Pacific Ocean, which changes global weather patterns.

C3 Director Carlo Buentempo said the string of record temperatures still indicated clearly that action must be taken.

"February joins the long streak of records of the last few months. As remarkable as this might appear, it is not really surprising as the continuous warming of the climate system inevitably leads to new temperature extremes," Buentempo said.

"The climate responds to the actual concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere so, unless we manage to stabilize those, we will inevitably face new global temperature records and their consequences."

Copernicus announced in January that it had seen average temperatures exceeded by 1.52 degrees Celsius on average for the first time over 12 months, from February 2023 to January 2024, compared to the pre-industrial era.

However, the global temperature spanning the year from March 1 last year up to and including February 2024 was the highest on record at 1.56 degrees above the 1850-1900 average.

Global warming happening at faster rate than ever

rc/ab (dpa, AP, AFP)