New map shows just how extreme last month was for the planet

Soaring winter temperatures. Unusually warm oceans. Heavy rainfall drenching and displacing communities. Low snow cover in North America and record low levels of Antarctic sea ice.

If last month being the planet’s hottest February — the ninth month in a row that a monthly record tumbled — failed to resonate, a new map from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows all the ways the extreme warmth translated to impacts around the world.

The map shows the world’s most significant “climate anomalies,” or weather events that were unexpected for this time of year.

Selected significant climate and weather extremes in February 2024. - NOAA
Selected significant climate and weather extremes in February 2024. - NOAA

In Antarctica, one of the coldest places on Earth, sea ice was second-lowest on record, tied for 2022, as scientists worry the climate crisis is having a stronger impact on this isolated region.

The Northern Hemisphere also experienced an unusually warm winter. Not only did Great Lakes ice cover reach historic lows last month, it was also the warmest February on record for North America and Europe, disrupting local economies that rely on winter recreational activities such as skiing and snowboarding.

Meanwhile, parts of the planet also saw water-related disasters on both ends of the spectrum — dry and wet. As Ecuador and Madagascar faced heavy rainfall and destructive flooding, parts of southern Africa saw one of the driest Februarys in 40 years.

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