Average Arctic Ocean temperatures in February warmer than past two decades

Average Arctic Ocean temperatures in February warmer than past two decades
© Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson

The Arctic Ocean saw February temperatures that were warmer than the past two decades’ average, according to a report released Monday by Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Worldwide, the month’s temperatures were close to the average for the past 30 years but included the coldest anomaly in nearly six years, according to the organization’s report.

“Conditions were much colder than its 1991-2020 average over much of Russia and North America, but much warmer than average over parts of the Arctic and in a band stretching eastward from north-western Africa and southern Europe to China,” the report states. “Temperature for Europe as a whole, for February 2021, was also close to the 1991-2020 average, though parts of Europe saw considerable variation in temperatures during the month.”

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Copernicus further found that the extent of sea ice was lower than average in the arctic and Antarctic regions during February, with coverage lowest compared to years past in Canada’s northeastern regions.

Other northern regions of the globe saw colder-than-average temperatures in February, particularly the northwestern regions of Russia, although Norwegian island chain Svalbard was an exception to the trend, according to the report.

Twelve-month average temperatures were the highest above the 1991-2020 average over northern Siberia and over Canada’s far northeastern regions, according to the research. They were above the 12-month average over most of the European continent except for parts of its northwestern and eastern regions.

“The average December-February temperature for Europe was 0.6°C above the 1991-2020 average for the season,” the report states. “This is 2.3°C lower than the corresponding value for 2019/20, the warmest winter average on record. Winter 2020/21 was similar in average European temperature to the winters of 2017/18 and 2018/19, but nine of the earlier winters since 1979/1980 were warmer.”

Scientists have said the warming of the earth’s poles are in part to blame for extreme weather events such as the winter weather that battered the Great Plains and Texas in February.

“It’s no secret that extreme weather events are happening more frequently,” Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Woods Hole, Mass., told Bloomberg News. “Climate scientists have been predicting this behavior for years, maybe decades, so it comes as no surprise whatsoever that we’re seeing back-to-back extremes of various types around the globe.”