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Copernicus: Antarctic sea ice extent reaches all-time minimum in February – Second warmest winter on record in Europe

Surface air temperature anomaly February 2023 relative the February average for 1991-2020.

Data source: ERA5. Credit: Copernicus Climate Service/ECMWF

Copernicus Climate Change Service, (C3S) is a monthly climate bulletin published by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts for the European Commission. It reports on changes in global surface temperature, sea-ice cover, and other hydrological variables. All reported findings are computer-generated using billions upon billions of measurements taken from satellites, ships and aircraft around the globe.

February 2023 Temperature Highlights:


* February 2023 was fifth in global heat

* Europe’s average air temperature was above average, especially in northern Norway, Sweden and the Svalbard area

* Temperatures above-average were recorded in the eastern United States, north Russia, Pakistan, and India


* Below-average temperatures were recorded across the Iberian Peninsula and Turkiye in the west United States, Canada. Northeast Russia, and northern Australia.

February 2023. Sea ice highlights:

* Antarctic sea-ice ice decreased by 34% in February according to satellite data records, breaking the February 2017 record.

* Antarctic daily sea-ice extent also reached an all time minimum, surpassing February 2022’s record.

* The Southern Ocean’s sea ice concentrations were significantly lower than average in all areas.

* Arctic sea ice extent was 4 percent below the average. This ranking is 2nd in February’s satellite data record. It also ranks 2nd for February 2016, 2017 and 2016.

* The Arctic sea ice concentrations were lowest in the Barents Sea region and Svalbard.

[1] The large positive temperature anomalies in February 2023 in northern Italy may be due to a data problem in ERA5 and should therefore be treated with caution. This problem is not widespread and will not affect the rankings and numbers for Europe.

Time series of monthly Antarctic Sea Ice extent Anomals for February 1979-2023. These anomalies are expressed in percentages of the February average for 1991-2020. Data source: EUMETSAT OSI SAF Sea Ice Index, v2.1. Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF/EUMETSAT.

Samantha Burgess is the Deputy Director at C3S. “Our most recent data shows that Antarctic sea-ice has reached its lowest extent in 45 years of satellite data records. This low level of sea ice may have significant implications for the stability and eventual rise in global sea levels. The climate crisis is reflected in the polar ice caps. It is crucial to monitor and closely monitor any changes.

Time series of Antarctic daily sea-ice extent (blue, 2021 (yellow), 2030 (red), and 2023 (black). This plot shows the daily median (solid lines), interdecile ranges (light shading), and interquartile ranges (dark shading) for 1991-2020. It also includes the daily minimum (dashed lines) during 1979-2022. Data source: EUMETSAT OSI SAF Sea Ice Index, v2.1. Credit: C3S/ECMWF/EUMETSAT.

Hydro Highlights for February 2023:

* February 2023 was a dry month in western and southern Europe. Many regions experienced record-low soil moisture levels.

* It was more wet than average outside of Europe in the southern USA, areas of Russia, central, eastern Asia, and southern Brazil. Flooding was often caused by heavy rainfall, which is sometimes linked with cyclones.

* Some regions in South America experienced droughts and wildfires.

There are anomalies in precipitation, surface humidity, volumetric moisture, and soil temperature for February 2023 compared to the February averages over the period 1991-2020. A darker shade indicates soil moisture that isn’t shown due to ice or climatologically low rainfall.

Winter 2022/2023

* Winter was the second-warmest winter on record in Europe. It had much higher than average temperatures in eastern Europe and northern-eastern Europe.

* The Boreal winter was much drier than the average in western and southern Europe as well as Russia. Conditions that were more than average have been established in parts of Iberia, as well as in large areas from the southwest to northeast across the continent.

* It was also wetter than the average in the west of North America and western Russia. Mexico, much of South America, South Australia, and most of Central Asia were some of the drier regions than average.

Video material to accompany the maps can been found here .

Additional information on February’s climate variables and updates from previous months can be found .

Find answers to commonly asked questions about temperature monitoring here

Information about C3S and how it is assembled.

The ECMWF Copernicus Climate Change Service’s ERA5 data contains temperature and hydrological maps.

Sea ice data and maps are a mixture of information from ERA5 and the EUMETSAT OSI SAF Sea Ice Index v2.1 and Sea Ice Concentration CDR/ICDR v2 as well as fast-track data that OSI SAF provides upon request.

These are the regional area averages as quoted in this document:

Globe, 180W-18E, 90S-90N over land and sea surfaces.

Europe, 25W-40E. 34N-72N.

For more information, see .

Information about national records and their impacts

The national records and impacts information are based on regional and national reports. You can find the temperature and hydrological for the month in the C3S climate bulletin.

C3S followed the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO), which recommended that the most recent 30-year period be used for calculating climatological averages. C3S changed to the 1991-2020 reference period in its C3S Climate Bulletins, covering January 2021 and beyond. Transparency is achieved by providing figures and graphics for the new period and the previous period (1981-2010).

You can find more information about the reference period here.

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