Temperature Trends

February Hottest Month Ever in the Satellite Temperature Record: Global Temperature Trend Update

Will February's warmth stand out as a singular spike or be part of an ongoing trend?


Dreamstime: Meryll

When compared to seasonal norms, the month of February was the hottest month ever in the satellite temperature record. University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologists John Christy and Roy Spencer report satellite temperature data each month as measured against the 30-year average of 1981 through 2010. Both climatologists are quite skeptical that man-made global warming will result in catastrophic consequences.

February's higher than normal temperatures mark the fifth straight month that global average temperatures were more than 1°C above average. As EcoWatch reports, "Parts of the Arctic were 16°C above average, reaching temperatures more often seen in June." In addtion, the region likely saw its lowest February sea ice levels since records began being kept in 1981. 

In an email reporting the results, Christy notes:

By a statistically significant amount, February 2016 was the warmest month in the satellite temperature record…. Interestingly, however, that record might have as much to do with an extraordinarily warm month in the Arctic as it does with warming caused by the El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event.

Globally, the average temperature anomaly in February (+0.83 C) was warmer than the previous record set in April 1998 (+0.74 C) during the so-called "El Niño of the century."

In the Northern Hemisphere, the February anomaly (+1.17 C) was a full 0.32 C (0.58 F) warmer than the previous NH record (+0.85 C) set in April 1998. Temperatures in the tropics and the Southern Hemisphere were not at record levels in February.


While the Arctic temperature anomaly is large, big temperature swings in the Arctic region aren't unusual, especially during the winter months. Those swings are also normally somewhat transient, so the extra heat represented in February could dissipate over the next few weeks. If that happens, it doesn't appear the heat from the El Niño by itself will be enough to continue pushing temperatures to new records later in the year, in which case this February anomaly might stand out as a singular spike in the dataset rather than part of an ongoing trend.

Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.12 C per decade

February temperatures (preliminary)

Global composite temp.: +0.83 C (about 1.50 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for February.

Northern Hemisphere: +1.17 C (about 2.11 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for February.

Southern Hemisphere: +0.50 C (about 0.90 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for February.

Tropics: +0.99 C (about 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for February.

Go here to see the monthly satellite data since 1979.

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  1. Meh, get back to us when all the predictions come true.

    1. I would like to quote Eddard Stark:

      Winter IS coming!

      I think this year in Colorado we may see snow as early as September.

  2. Where are the exclamation points and proclamations of doom?

    1. Do you want links to all of them or just the top 1000?

      1. Just the derpiest ones. I need the fix.

        1. Geez, I gotta do my own work

          Increasing temperature seems to have a significant effect on interpersonal violence and human conflict, as indicated by a body of empirical evidence in a rapidly expanding area of scientific study. In an assembly of 60 quantitative studies7 covering all major world regions, it is found that interpersonal violence increases by 4% and intergroup conflict by 14% for each standard deviation increase of temperature. Such findings do not constitute natural laws, but they provide a useful empirical estimate of impacts of temperature change.

          The overall message that climate science delivers to society, policymakers, and the public alike is this: we have a global emergency. Fossil fuel CO2 emissions should be reduced as rapidly as practical. We argue that country-by-country goals, the approach of the 21st Conference of the Parties cannot lead to rapid phasedown of fossil fuel emissions, as long as fossil fuels are allowed to be the cheapest energy. It will be necessary to include a carbon fee that allows the external costs of fossil fuels to be incorporated in their price. Border duties on products from countries without a carbon fee, would lead to most nations adopting a carbon fee.

          1. Increasing temperature seems to have a significant effect on interpersonal violence and human conflict, as indicated by a body of empirical evidence in a rapidly expanding area of scientific study.

            I’m sure those studies are not flawed. Moreover, even if they were not, I’m sure the author knows what those studies really say and isn’t simply interpreting them in a way that supports his or her policy goals.

            1. Increasing temperature seems to have a significant effect on interpersonal violence and human conflict, as indicated by a body of empirical evidence in a rapidly expanding area of scientific study.

              It’s just a repurposed paper from the 1850s about how blacks are a naturally savage race.

              1. You know who else thinks blacks are a naturally savage race?

                1. Irish?

                  1. Yeah, too easy.

          2. Such findings do not constitute natural laws, but they provide a useful empirical estimate of impacts of temperature change.

            Holy Fuck.

            I don’t know what you’re doing, but if you have to tell your readers/reviewers that your “discovery” isn’t a here-to-fore undiscovered natural law, I’m inclined to say that it’s not science.

            Otherwise, just change your name to Joseph Smith and be done with it.

          3. Somebody help me out here:

            What is a “standard deviation increase of temperature”? I thought standard deviations were how you measured the “spread” in a data set. I’m obviously no statistician, but I’m not following what they are supposedly correlating to the increase in violence.

            1. I suppose he’s saying that if the average temperature rises by the current std deviation… something… something… hell on earth.

              1. The standard deviation in temperature measurements on any given day, planet-wide, is huge.

                The standard deviation in temperature measurements on for any given site, over the course of a year, is also huge.

                I just can’t figure out what the hell he’s talking about.

                1. The original article

                  He appears to be referencing the 1951 to 1980 average and standard deviation. Of course, who knows which altered dataset he’s using.

                  1. Standard deviation of what, though?

        2. In view of the disparity between developed country and developing country emissions, there is a recognized obligation of assistance from developed countries. Developing countries have strong leverage to achieve that assistance, because their cooperation in improved agricultural and forestry practices is needed to store more carbon in the soil and biosphere and to limit trace gas emissions. In addition, international cooperation in generating more affordable carbon-free energies is needed, because otherwise economic development in many nations will continue to be based on fossil fuels, despite pollution and climate impacts.

          Guess the author

          1. Any retarded leftist that thinks redistribution of wealth is totally awesome?

          2. H..Hitler?

          3. Hansen, Klein or Howard?

            1. Hansen

              Oooooo That’s a Bingo!

    2. Where are the exclamation points and proclamations of doom?

      The Trump threads.

      1. The bathroom thread is delivering right now.

        1. Delivering in the bathroom? What is this, prom?

          1. *stand to begin thunderous ovation*

  3. Hottest. Month. EVAR!!11!! DOOOOOMMM!!11!!!!!!

  4. Wasn’t hot enough. I couldn’t get a long enough stint of good weather to take the car out for a spin.

  5. February’s higher than normal temperatures mark the fifth straight month that global average temperatures were more than 1?C above average.


    1. Ever notice that when it’s warmer than predicted its above “normal,” while if it is colder then it is below “average.”

      1. You mean like the opposite of what the quote you are responding to says?

    2. They’re above average, meaning exceptional Fist, jeez. This isn’t rocket science, which I fucking love, by the way.

      1. Global exceptionalism is a myth. And just a little bit racist, quite frankly.

        1. Make El Nino Great Again.

          1. Dirty Messican weather…

            1. “Gonna build a YUUUUGE wall, to keep El Nino out, and send the heat back to Mexico, and make them pay for it!”

    3. the fifth straight month of an El Nino event that when global average temperatures were are expected to run more than 1?C above average.

      True or false?

    4. An average temperature in a certain place over a certain time period is not meaningless or impossible to calculate. There are even several meaningful ways to calculate the average temperature of the planet. I don’t think climate science is in a very good state, but a lot of people talk about it as if it is impossible to do it properly. Global warming (and cooling) are real phenomena and there are ways to measure them.

  6. Only had to fire up the snow blower a half a dozen times. I’m loving it!

    1. I can see the practical advantages. But I am bored as shit when it doesn’t snow a lot in the winter. I am not pleased with this winter.

  7. We’ve definitely had a warm, dry spell in western Montana since about the end of January. It will be interesting to see what next February will look like; if it’s colder and wetter than normal, will we hear from the warmists?

    1. Somehow it will still be the WARMEST EVER!!!!

  8. That map shows that eastern Europe and western Russia ruined it for the rest of us. AS USUAL.

    1. Didn’t south-eastern Asia have a really unusual cold spell this winter?

  9. Again though, is this record heat because of an increased concentration of anthropogenic greenhouse gases? The precautionary principle applies both ways, you know. Maybe the cost of action isn’t worth it, right Joe?

    1. My understanding is that a decent amount of research shows that CO2 is not a leading indicator but rather a trailing one.

      But I’m just an architect/engineer so what the hell do I know next to “climate scientists”.

      1. But I’m just an architect/engineer so what the hell do I know next to “climate scientists”.


    2. Leonardo DiCaprio gave a presentation on this very topic at last Sunday’s Oscars. From his studies cruising the oceans in the world’s fifth largest super yacht surrounded by a bevy of bikini-clad young ladies, he confirmed that increased greenhouse gases are indeed the cause of the record warming and recommended that we immediately stop using fossil fuels and elect more Democrats.

    3. What is the cost of unleashing our entire nuclear arsenal against ISIS and Gaza?

  10. And so?

  11. uh oh.

  12. That’s a lot of poor counties in Eastern Europe.

  13. What’s the significance of the time span of a month? With all that sciency type gear recording stuff I expect specifics

  14. Dude that makes a lot of sense man.


  15. Where I live, we’ve had (generally) cooler summers and warmer winters, plenty of overall precipitation, so the water tables are filled (and have access to two of the Great Lakes), plenty of arable land, and limited bug problems. What’s not to like? At the top end of tornado alley, but have never scene one in my life. If getting back to “normal” is scorching summers and frigid winters, you can count me out. I’ll run my lawn mower without even engaging the blade and take the scenic route to work, if I have to. And my aptitude toward violence is reserved for those who want to take a huge chunk of my stuff for redistribution.

  16. Had record low temps here. Why no mention of that?


  17. Certainly stunning. It stunned even Spencer. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus said this

    “Keep in mind that it took from the dawn of the industrial age until last October to reach the first 1.0 degree Celsius, and we’ve come as much as an extra 0.4 degrees further in just the last five months.”

    Still sure that 2016 won’t be as warm as 2015?

    1. Interesting to note that according to the article, Spencer was so stunned he had to check with others to see if a mistake might have been made.

      1. “Peter Gleick, a climate scientist at the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, said it’s difficult to compare the current temperature spike: “The old assumptions about what was normal are being tossed out the window ? The old normal is gone.””

        This would be the same Gleick who was busted for, oh, lying?
        “On February 20, 2012, Peter Gleick confessed to stealing documents from The Heartland Institute with the intent of exposing its funding sources and damaging its reputation. He also disseminated a fake “climate strategy memo” that he and other environmental activists on the left claim describes Heartland’s “secret strategy” to mislead the public about the true nature of climate change.”

        Yeah, I’ll certainly trust him.
        Oh, and I guess you missed it:
        “The rate of temperature increase has been dramatically slower than predicted, says Nature Climate Change.”

        Maybe Gleick is as slimy and dishonest as you?

    2. We have no choice.

      If we are to survive, we must wage a total nuclear war against ISIS and Gaza.

      Otherwise, we will die.

  18. Just to keep up on satellite measurements, Carl Mears and Frank Wentz (RSS) have adjusted their dataset (uh oh, I thought only surface temperatures get adjusted) and the changes show more warming in the troposphere than previously thought. From their abstract:

    “The new dataset shows SUBSTANTIALLY increased global-scale warming relative to the previous version of the dataset, particularly after 1998. The new dataset shows more warming than most other middle tropospheric data records constructed from the same set of satellites.”

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