Scientists are already virtually certain that 2022 will be among the 10 hottest years on record.
In its monthly update, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a US federal agency, reported that this year was already off to a baking-hot start.
In January and February, the global surface temperature was the sixth highest on record. This means that it is virtually certain (above 99 per cent) that 2022 will rank in the top-10 hottest years.
The new data also revealed that there was a 28.6 per cent chance that 2022 would be in top five hottest years, and a 2.8 per cent chance it would be the hottest year ever recorded.
Last month was the seventh-warmest February globally across the 143 years that NOAA has kept records – at 1.46F (0.81C) above the 20th-century average of 53.9F (12.1C).
The climate crisis is causing warmer winters around the world which can spool out into a number of extreme impacts.
For example, recent warmer winters in California have led to less snowpack in the mountains. In turn, this means less water run-off into streams and rivers in spring which exacerbates the years-long megadrought and leaves land and vegetation drier and more prone to wildfires.
So far in 2022, there have been cooler-than-average temperatures across North America, Greenland and in parts of northern Africa, central and southern Asia, Australia, and the southeastern Pacific Ocean.
Temperatures were much above average across Europe, western and northern Russia, eastern Indian, and northern and western areas of the Pacific Ocean, as well as parts of Central and South America, and southern Africa.
Snow cover in February was close to normal in the Northern Hemisphere at 17.68 million square miles. Europe and Asia had an above-average snow cover, while North America was below average.
The Arctic sea ice extent – meaning the area of ice that covers the ocean at a given time – averaged 5.64 million square miles. It was the 14th-smallest February extent in the 44-year record, according to analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
The Antarctic sea ice extent for February 2022 was the smallest on record at 830,000 square miles – 29.6 per cent below average.
Cyclone activity last month was above average around the world with a total of eight named storms. Half intensified to become hurricanes (otherwise known as cyclones or typhoons).
The South Indian Ocean was the most active with five named storms, tying with the Februaries of 2000 and 2007 for the most named storms since 1981.
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