Weather officials in Japan say the country had an abnormally warm winter this year, with a record-high national average temperature and record-low snowfalls in some areas.
The Japan Meteorological Agency convened an expert panel to analyze winter weather conditions between December and February.
The national average temperature during the period was 1.66 degrees Celsius higher than usual, the warmest since record-keeping began in 1898. The average temperature in eastern Japan was especially high at a record 2.2 degrees above normal, and western Japan recorded temperatures 2.0 degrees above normal.
The amount of snowfall in the eastern coastal areas along the Sea of Japan was only seven percent of the volume in an average year, and 44 percent along the coast of northern Japan. These figures are the lowest snowfalls recorded.
Agency officials attributed this to the long-term trend of rising winter temperatures due to global warming, as well as westerly winds at high altitude meandering more northward than usual, blocking cold air masses from flowing in.
The officials say weather conditions this winter were abnormal, and stress the need to closely monitor the effects of global warming.