Global temperatures smashed records for the 10th straight month in February, which was a whopping 2.18 degrees above average, according to data released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The spike is "unprecedented," said Penn State meteorologist Michael Mann. Records are typically broken by hundredths or tenths of degrees. No month has ever registered a mark that high above normal.
Mann attributed the record to a mix of global warming (roughly 50%), climate pattern El Niño (25%) and month-to-month temperature fluctuations (25%). The fingerprint of human-caused climate change isn’t just evident, it’s dominant, Mann said.
El Niño's role in the temperature shift means records will continue to be broken for a few more months but probably won't become a permanent situation, NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt told the Associated Press.
El Niño — a natural warming of Pacific waters that impacts weather across the globe — is forecast to slowly weaken over the next few months and be replaced by the cooler-than-normal temperatures of La Niña, the Climate Prediction Center said.
The planet also saw its warmest meteorological winter — December to February — on record, topping last year's record by over half a degree, NOAA reported. NOAA's data jibes with global temperature data from NASA released earlier this week.