Sea ice levels lowest on record as earth experiences second hottest February ever
COLORADO – Last month saw the extent of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic slip to a record low, scientists from the US National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have reported.
The average Arctic sea ice extent was 7.6 percent below the 1981-2010 average for February, and the average Antarctic sea ice extent was 24.4 percent below average.
Both the North and South Pole logged the smallest February sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979.
The news came against the backdrop of Earth experiencing its second-hottest February ever recorded, with global temperatures for the month 0.98°C (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average of 12.2°C (53.9°F).
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, most notably in Australia, the United States and Europe.
The 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 NOAA.
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.
The back-to-back hottest years on record since 2014 have caused glaciers to melt, seas to rise, and altered atmospheric circulation patterns around the globe.