Earth warmest during December-February

The Earth has experienced its warmest December-February since records began 128 years ago, a US said in a report which has added fire to global warming concerns.

A record warm January worldwide pushed average temperatures to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for the 20th century, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

It was the highest average temperature for the period since records began in 1880, the NOAA, said in its report released on Thursday. A UN panel said last month that global warming was almost certainly caused by human activity and several governments and international bodies have sounded the alarm over the need to cut carbon emissions.

Europe has had its hottest winter on record and European experts say the spring and summer are also likely to be the warmest ever. The El Nino phenomenon, a periodic warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern Pacific, contributed to the chart-busting combined global land and ocean surface temperature, the NOAA said.

But in February ocean temperatures in the central equatorial Pacific cooled more than 0.5 degrees F/0.3 degrees C and were near average for the month.

Nevertheless, the ocean-surface temperature in the period tied for second warmest on record, the agency said, just 0.1 degree Fahrenheit cooler than the record established during the very strong El Nino episode of 1997-1998. The NOAA scientists pointed to a steady rise in temperatures in recent decades.

During the past century, global surface temperatures have increased at a rate near 0.11 degrees F (0.06 degrees C) per decade.