By Andrew Freedman
20 March 2014
(Mashable) – It's been exactly 29 years — or 348 consecutive months — since the last cooler-than-average month on this planet, according to new data released on Wednesday morning. The data, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reflects the warming trend seen around the world during the past century, which scientists blame largely on the increasing amounts of manmade greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The last cooler-than-average month (based on a 1961 to 1990 average) on a global level was February of 1985, the year the first version of Microsoft Windows was released and the first Back to the Future film hit theaters.
NOAA announced that February of 2014, however, was not as unusually mild, globally-speaking, as other recent months, coming in as the 21st-warmest February since records began in 1880. When looking only at land surface temperatures, it was the coolest February since 1994, NOAA said.
The majority of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, and parts of the Arctic Ocean, western North Atlantic, and northeastern Pacific Ocean, among other areas, were record warm. Two areas that are normally frigid in February, Far East Russia and northern Scandinavia, had average temperatures of greater than 9 degrees Fahrenheit above average for the month.
Parts of Finland, for example, saw February temperatures that averaged up to 16 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, and Germany had its sixth-warmest February on record.
Meanwhile, parts of Central and North America, including portions of the continental U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains, along with western Asia had monthly average temperatures that were more than 9 degrees Fahrenheit below their February average, NOAA said.
For meteorological winter, which runs from December through February, the global average temperature was the eighth highest on record, at more than 1 degree Fahrenheit above the 20th century average.
Austria, where records extend back 247 years, had its second-warmest winter on record, and Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Denmark had winters that ranked in their top 5 warmest on record, NOAA said.
The U.S., however, had its 34th coldest winter on record, with a split personality featuring above average temperatures across the West, and much below average temperatures from the Midwest to the East. While there were many winter storms that criss-crossed the U.S. this winter, the country saw nothing like what hit the UK, where 12 major storms struck between December and the end of February, breaking rainfall records and causing extensive damage. [more]