The world looks to be on pace for another hot year, with global temperatures from December to February shattering records for the second year running.
The average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 2.03 degrees above the 20th century average, breaking the previous record set during the same period last year by 0.52 degrees, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
February was especially mind boggling, with temperatures averaging 56.08 degrees or 2.18 degrees above the 20th century average. It was also an all-time record for a month – beating the one set just two months ago in December.
"The departures are what we would consider astronomical," NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden told the Associated Press.
"It's on land. It's in the oceans. It's in the upper atmosphere. It's in the lower atmosphere. The Arctic had record low sea ice,” she said. "Everything everywhere is a record this month, except Antarctica. It's insane."
From North America to Australia to Asia, the story was much the same. Many parts of the world saw above average warming while drier conditions were seen in the Pacific Islands, parts of the United States and Australia.
Nowhere, though, saw as dramatic warming as Alaska – which was battered by wildfires last year due to lack of snow and warmer temperatures. According to NOAA, temperatures in Alaska in February were a whopping 12.4 degrees above average and were the warmest since state records began being kept in 1925.
The latest temperature records is part of a long running trend that dates back several decades and is driven by rising emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases as well as El Nino. The warming trends resulted in record hot years in 2014 and 2015 as well as 19 consecutive years in which the annual average temperature exceeded the 20th century average.
Beyond temperatures, Arctic sea ice continued to decline. The average ice for February was 450,000 square miles or 7.54 percent below the 1981–2010 average. This represents the smallest February extent since records began in 1979 and 77,000 square miles smaller than the previous record of 2005. It was the second month in a row of record low of Arctic sea ice extent, according to analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center based on data from NOAA and NASA.
Antarctic sea ice also declined, though not to record levels. The ice was 110,000 square miles or 9.54 percent below the 1981–2010 average. This was the sixth smallest Antarctic sea ice extent for February in the 38-year period of record and the smallest since 2011.
Many places also saw less snow in February. According to data from NOAA analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during February was 800,000 square miles below the 1981–2010 average. This was the third smallest February Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in the 50-year period of record and smallest since 2002.