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January Was the Third Warmest January on Record for the Globe

If the climate records of late 2016 were any indication, January 2017’s balmy global temperatures — and record-small polar ice extents — will come as no surprise.   The average global temperature was 1.58 degrees F above the 20th century average of 53.6 degrees, according to the analysis by scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. This was the third highest for January in the 1880-2017 record, behind 2016 (highest) and 2007 (second highest).

More noteworthy findings for January included:

Record-low sea ice extent at the poles

  • The average Arctic sea ice extent was 8.6 percent below the 1981-2010 average for January, and the average Antarctic sea ice extent was 22.8 percent below the 1981-2010 average. For both regions this was the smallest January sea ice extent since the satellite record began in 1979.

Above-average snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere

  • The Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent was the sixth largest in the 51-year period of record. North America had its 13th largest and Eurasia had its seventh largest.

Warmer-than-average lands and oceans 

  • The globally averaged sea surface temperature was the second highest January on record, 1.17 degree F above average.
  • The globally averaged land surface temperature was the third highest January on record, 2.77 degrees F above average.

Continents experienced temperature highs and lows

  • North America had its fourth warmest January on record; South America had its second; Asia tied as sixth; Oceania had its 13th; and Africa had its 21st. Cooler-than-average conditions engulfed much of Europe in January, which had its coldest winter since 2010.

January 2017 was the third warmest January in 137 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

Last month’s temperature was 0.20 degrees Celsius cooler than the warmest January in 2016. However, it was 0.92 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean January temperature from 1951-1980.

Two of the three top January temperature anomalies have been during the past two years. 2016 was the hottest on record, at 1.12 degrees Celsius warmer than the January mean temperature, followed by 2007 at 0.96 degrees Celsius warmer. January 2017 placed third.

The monthly analysis by the GISS team is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Andy Stein

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