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Europe had, by far, its hottest winter on record this year.
When temperature records are broken, it’s usually by a sliver of a degree. But this winter, Europe was hotter by a whopping 6.12 degrees Fahrenheit (3.4 degrees Celsius) than the average temperature from 1980 through 2010, according to Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. The next-warmest winter on record, 2015-2016, was hotter by 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1.4 degrees Celsius).
In February, Moscow is usually blanketed in snow. This year, it had barely any. The Russian capital was especially hot — 13.5 degrees Fahrenheit (7.5 degrees Celsius) above the norm.
In parts of Germany, it was too hot to make the country’s traditional ice wine, a premium product that’s produced by pressing grapes while they’re still completely frozen. This year, they didn’t freeze.
The Copernicus service takes the Earth’s temperature using billions of measurements from satellites, ships, and weather stations around the world. The European Union’s agency has temperature data going back to the 1850s — and Europe’s most recent winter blew all past readings out of the water.
“Europe has been experiencing its mildest winter on record. Whilst this was a truly extreme event in its own right, it is likely that these sorts of events have been made more extreme by the global warming trend,” Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said in a statement.
It’s not all bad news for the climate, though: Energy demand across the continent also plummeted because people didn’t need as much power to heat their homes. Gas prices are in free fall, approaching their lowest value in nearly two decades.
Europe isn’t the only place where it’s been unseasonably warm. Antarctica has been breaking temperature records left and right. Parts of the icy continent were less icy than usual. It was warm enough to walk around in a T-shirt last month.
Still, the scientists at Copernicus caution that temperature readings vary widely and aren’t the best indicator of climate change.
“It’s hard to conclude whether the temperature during one particular winter can be attributable to the global warming trend,” Julien Nicolas, a scientist with Copernicus’ European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, told VICE News. “What we can conclude is that the global warming trend makes this kind of winter more likely.”
Ocean temperatures are a far better metric to measure global heating — huge bodies of water take way longer to heat up. And the temperature in the world’s waters is rising, too, by about a degree Fahrenheit at the surface in the last 40 years.
Cover: A man walks in Kolomenskoye Park on a warm winter day in Moscow. Maksim Blinov / Sputnik via AP