MIAMI (AFP) - Temperatures across the planet soared again last month, setting a new heat record with the warmest February since modern records began, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday.
"The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for February 2016 was the highest for the month of February in the NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880," said an NOAA statement.
With an average temperature that was 1.21 deg C above the 20th century average, the month marked "the highest departure from average among all 1,646 months in the record".
The latest heat record continues a string of troubling warming trends, which US government scientists say are driven by man-made climate change and the burning of fossil fuels which spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Last year as a whole was the hottest on record, beating out the previous title holder of 2014.
NOAA, which announces its climate update each month, said "February 2016 also marks the 10th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken."
The extent of sea ice in the Arctic was also unusually low, at an average of 1.16 million sq km last month, or 7.54 per cent below the 1981-2010 average.
"This was the smallest February extent since records began in 1979 and 77,000 square miles smaller than the previous record of 2005," said NOAA. The area is equivalent to almost 200,000 sq km.
"February 2016 also marked the second consecutive month of record low Arctic sea ice extent."