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February Was Warmest On Record

Cheung Chi-fai – SCMP – Updated on Mar 02, 2009

Last month was the warmest February since records began 125 years ago, with an average temperature of 20.5 degrees Celsius, 4.2 degrees higher than the month’s average for the 30 years to 2000.

The thermometer hit 28.3 degrees on February 25, a record high for the month.

The Hong Kong Observatory said the warmer weather was the result of a weak northeast monsoon and the stronger than usual influence of warmer air from the south.

“The cold air from the north seldom reached southern China. In Hong Kong, the occurrence of the warmer southerly winds originating from the ocean was about three times normal,” the Observatory said.

The temperatures were in line with the warming trend seen over the past 50 years, it said. The average February temperature has been rising by 0.4 degrees each decade.

Global warming and increasing urbanisation had contributed to this trend, the Observatory said.

The previous warmest February was in 2007, when temperatures averaged 19.5 degrees.

The city has just experienced its warmest autumn on record.

Last year, in a projection of the long-term impact of climate change on the city, Observatory chief Lam Chiu-ying warned summers would get longer and winters shorter, and that winters would disappear for good by 2049, possibly as early as the 2020s. That would mean temperatures falling to below 12 degrees for less than one day per year.

This scenario would happen if greenhouse gas emissions were not controlled and urbanisation continued to accelerate.

Edwin Lau Che-feng, the Hong Kong director of environmental group Friends of the Earth, said the new data reinforced the fact that global warming was affecting the city.

“No doubt climate change is at work,” he said. The city should step up efforts to conserve energy through measures that encouraged businesses to cut their energy consumption and reduce their carbon footprint.

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