Home > climate change, Earth science > January was hottest on record, 9th month in a row to set warmth record

January was hottest on record, 9th month in a row to set warmth record

January continued a streak of hotter-than-average months, according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, going into the record books as the hottest January since climate records have been kept and continuing a recent streak of consecutive warmest monthly temperature benchmarks.

According to the National Centers of Environmental Information, a bureau of NOAA, the worldwide average atmosphere and ocean surface temperature was 1.04 degrees Celsius above the 2oth century average. That is the second-highest deviation from the global norm ever recorded in 137 years of record-keeping, trailing only December 2015.

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies released data last week indicating that January represented the greatest departure from the global average atmosphere and ocean surface temperature, with the worldwide measurement reaching 1.13 degrees above the global average of the last century.

Jan. 2016 temperatures
This graphic shows worldwide air and sea surface temperatures in January 2016. Courtesy NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The record-breaking warmth was especially pronounced in the Arctic, where temperatures above 75 degrees north latitude were 7 degrees Celsius above average and temperatures. That would explain the report released last week by the National Snow & Ice Data Center, which indicated that January’s Arctic ice pack is lower than it has been in any January in recorded history. The NSIDC data shows that January’s Arctic ice pack was more than a million square kilometers less than the 1981-2010 average.

January 2016 Arctic ice cover
This graphic shows the Arctic ice cover in January 2016 – 13.53 million square kilometers. The magenta-colored line shows the median January ice cover between 1981-2010; the black cross marks the geographic North Pole. Graphic courtesy National Snow & Ice Data Center.

The NOAA report indicated that Sub-Saharan Africa, most of South America, the Middle East, and southwestern Asia also experienced significant warmth last month. Some areas experienced anomalous rainfall, particularly the United Kingdom, Ireland, some parts of western Europe, New Zealand, parts of Brazil and southern South America, and parts of China. Others were abnormally dry. Those areas included parts of Mexico and northern South America, some areas in Australia, portions of Asia, and a small part of northwestern Africa.

January was also the ninth consecutive month in which the record for highest average monthly air and sea surface temperature has been broken, according to NOAA.

1976 was the last year in which Earth experienced a January that was colder than average.

 

 

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