A combination of strong El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean and human-caused warming drove temperatures in February this year to levels never before seen since records began in 1880, according to new NASA data.
The data shows that February had a global average surface temperature of 1.35 degrees Celsius above the 1951 to 1980 average.
The 1.35 degree Celsius temperature anomaly in February beat the previous record high departure from average for any month seen in January this year.
Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) tweeted the temperature analysis.
Normally I don't comment on individual months (too much weather, not enough climate), but last month was special.https://t.co/nALWMlNDcP— Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin) March 12, 2016
According to NASA, the global average surface temperature during January was 1.14 degrees Celsius above average compared to the 1951 to 1980 average.
This means that temperatures in February this year had the largest departure from average of any month in NASA's records since 1880. The previous warmest February was in 1998, which was also a year with an extremely strong El Nino, NASA said.
However, in an important indication of how far human-caused global warming has shifted the baseline state of the planet's climate, February this year came out 0.846 degrees Celsius warmer than February 1998, despite the similar intensity of the El Nino events in both years.
In fact, studies indicate that with the highest levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere in all of human history, global average temperatures may now be higher than any time since at least 4,000 years ago.