National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce

The Warmest January/February in the Arctic

These graphs show the January and February surface air temperature anomaly averaged over the Arctic area (66–90°N) based on NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis. Units are in °Celsius.

March 07, 2016

Right from the beginning of 2016 new records have been set in the Arctic: warmest air temperature on record in both January and February, and the lowest sea ice cover in February. The average temperature anomaly has reached a record of 5.8°C (10.4°F) for January and 4.56°C (8.2°F) for February. This is the warmest period in the Arctic for these two consecutive months since 1948. The Arctic sea ice extent for February 2016 averaged 14.2 million square kilometers (5.5 million square miles), the lowest February extent in the satellite record. Once Arctic scientists at PMEL put this past January and February into historical perspective, they saw that this unusual warmth is unprecedented in both months. This unprecedented warmth is mainly due to the large positive temperature anomalies in the Arctic Ocean and over the North American continents. This year’s record high temperature and low sea ice cover increases concerns about what will happen next in the Arctic and globally.

Read the full story on NOAA Arctic theme page

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