The combined land and ocean surface average temperature for February was the ninth warmest since records began in 1880, according to an analysis by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The analysis in NOAA's National Climatic Data Centre (NCDC) global reports are based on preliminary data, which are subject to revision. Additional quality control is applied to the data when later reports are received several weeks after the end of the month and as increased scientific methods improve NCDC's processing algorithms.
The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for February was 12.67 degrees Celsius, 0.5 degrees above the 20th century mean of 12.17 degrees C, ranking as the ninth warmest on record.
Separately, the global land surface temperature was 4.1 degrees C, 0.9 degrees above the 20th century mean of 3.2 degrees C.
The global ocean surface temperature of 16.25 degrees C ranked as eighth warmest on record and was 0.36 degrees above the 20th century mean of 15.89 degrees C.
The Arctic Sea ice coverage during February 2009 was at its fourth lowest February extent since satellite records began in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre.
Average ice extent during February was 14.8 million square km. The Arctic sea ice pack usually expands during the cold season, reaching a maximum in March, then contracts during the warm season, reaching a minimum in September.
Very hot, dry conditions affected southern Australia during the end of January and beginning of February. An intense heat wave Feb 6-8 resulted in a high temperature of 48.78 degrees C at Hopetoun, Victoria, Feb 7, surpassing the previous record of 47.22 degrees C set in January 1939.
This is a state record and perhaps the highest temperature ever recorded for such a southerly latitude. The hot, dry conditions contributed to the development of Australia's deadliest wildfires in history, said a NOAA release.
China declared its highest level of emergency for eight provinces that were suffering from their worst drought in 50 years.
The drought conditions, which began in November 2008, affected more than four million people and more than 24 million acres of crops.