Record heat continues in January

Record heat continues in January

19

Published

19 February 2016

Record heat experienced in 2015 continued in January 2016, fuelled by the ongoing El Niño and long-term climate change. Arctic sea ice extent was the smallest on the satellite record.

The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for January 2016 was the highest for the month since record keeping began in 1880, at 1.87°F (1.04°C) above the 20th century average. Ocean surface temperatures were also highest for the month, while land surface temperatures were second highest on record, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

January 2016 also marks the ninth consecutive month to break a monthly global temperature record, according to the monthly summary is developed by scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.

WMO is using a combination of datasets, including from NOAA, for its Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2015. The final statement will be released for World Meteorological Day on 23 March. Consolidated figures show that 2015 was the hottest year on record by a huge margin, at about 0.76°C above the 1961-1990 average. 

Using NOAA data, the Rutgers Global Snow Lab determined that the Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during January was 740,000 square miles above the 1981-2010 average. This was the ninth largest Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in the 50-year period of record.

The average Arctic sea ice extent for January was 410,000 square miles (7.14 percent) below the 1981-2010 average. This was the smallest January extent since records began in 1979 and 35,000 square miles smaller than the previous record of 2011, according to analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center based on data from NOAA and NASA.

Antarctic sea ice during January was 800,000 square miles (4.26 percent) below the 1981-2010 average. This was the 16th smallest Antarctic sea ice extent on record and the smallest since 2011.

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