Earth experienced its second-hottest February ever recorded last month according to alarming new figures.
Global temperatures in February were 0.98°C (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average of 12.2°C (53.9°F).
And last month also saw the extent of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctica slip to a new low, scientists from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported.
Earth this year experienced its second-hottest February ever recorded. Pictured is a map of temperature anomalies during February 2017, where dark crimson indicates areas of extreme warming and blue shows a drop in temperature
Only February 2016 was warmer, when the temperature was 1.35°C (2.43°F) above average.
Warmer-than-average weather was reported across the globe, including in Australia, the United States and Europe.
Africa experienced its tenth warmest February since 1910, while Asia experienced its eighth warmest February on record.
Only February 2016 was warmer, when the temperature was 1.35°C (2.43°F) above average. Pictured is a heat map showing changes in land and ocean temperatures in February 2017, where areas of record cold are shown in blue and record warm is shown in red
|Year||Temperature increase (°C relative to average temperature 1961-1990)|
The average Arctic sea ice extent was 7.6 per cent below the 1981-2010 average for February, and the average Antarctic sea ice extent was 24.4 per cent below average.
Both regions logged the smallest February sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979.
The alarming new figures come after world temperatures hit a record high for the third year in a row in 2016.
Average surface temperatures over land and the oceans in 2016 were 0.94°C (1.69°F) above the 20th-century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F), according to the NOAA.
Nasa reported almost identical data as the UK Met Office and University of East Anglia, which also track global temperatures for the United Nations, said 2016 was the hottest year on record.
Temperatures, lifted both by man-made greenhouse gases and a natural El Nino event that released heat from the Pacific Ocean last year, beat the previous record in 2015, when 200 nations agreed a plan to limit global warming.
A map showing record-breaking climatic events across the globe, including warmer-than-average temperatures in the United States, Australia and Europe
Piers Forster, climate expert at the University of Leeds, said this year was likely to be cooler.
‘However, unless we have a major volcanic eruption, I expect the record to be broken again within a few years,’ he said.
Ash from big eruptions can dim sunlight and reduce atmospheric warming.
The average Arctic sea ice extent was 7.6 percent below the 1981-2010 average for February (left), and the average Antarctic sea ice extent was 24.4 percent below average (right)
WHAT IS EL NIÑO?
El Niño is caused by a shift in the distribution of warm water in the Pacific Ocean around the equator.
Usually the wind blows strongly from east to west, due to the rotation of the Earth, causing water to pile up in the western part of the Pacific.
This pulls up colder water from the deep ocean in the eastern Pacific.
However, in an El Niño, the winds pushing the water get weaker and cause the warmer water to shift back towards the east. This causes the eastern Pacific to get warmer.
But as the ocean temperature is linked to the wind currents, this causes the winds to grow weaker still and so the ocean grows warmer, meaning the El Niño grows.
This change in air and ocean currents around the equator can have a major impact on the weather patterns around the globe by creating pressure anomalies in the atmosphere.