Earth experienced its hottest February on record, breaking a monthly heat record for the ninth straight month, according to an analysis by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. A concurrent report released by Climate Central found more than half the global population (4.8 billion people) experienced unusually warm temperatures this winter, a phenomenon “that would be virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change.

Climate change, mainly caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is driving up both atmospheric and sea surface temperatures. “We are witnessing something extraordinary and unprecedented,” weather historian Maximiliano Herrera said Tuesday. “Several thousands of records pulverized all over the world in a matter of hours, with margins never seen before.” The warming is exacerbated by the El Niño cycle and is pushing ocean temperatures to new heights, raising concern over a potentially (extra) destructive Atlantic hurricane season.

“These anomalously high temperatures are very worrisome,” Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald told the AP. “To avoid even higher temperatures, we need to act quickly to reduce CO2 emissions.” (AP, Washington Post $, New York Times $, CBS, LA Times $, The Guardian, CNN, Axios, Reuters, BBC, France24, Al Jazeera, Forbes, AFP via Barron’s; Climate Signals background: Global Warming)