NOAA Report: Earth just had its hottest January in recorded history


Dan Broadbent

According to NOAA, January 2020 was the hottest January in all of recorded history.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), January 2020 was the hottest January in all of recorded history.

According to the NOAA report:

The January global land and ocean surface temperature was the highest on record at 2.05 degrees F (1.14 degrees C) above the 20th-century average. This surpassed the record set in January 2016 by 0.04 of a degree F (0.02 of a degree C). 

The four warmest Januaries documented in the climate record have occurred since 2016; the 10 warmest have all occurred since 2002. 

Breaking the month down by hemispheres, the Northern Hemisphere also had its warmest January on record, at 2.70 degrees F (1.50 degrees C) above average. The Southern Hemisphere had a departure of 1.40 degrees F (0.78 of a degree C) above average — its second-warmest January on record after January 2016.

A map of the world noting some of the most significant weather climate events that occurred during January 2020. (Source: NOAA)

Record-high temperature was also seen across Scandinavia, Asia, the Indian Ocean, central and western Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, and Central and South America. No area of land, and none Earth's oceans, had record-low temperatures in January.

Additionally, NOAA reported that polar sea ice stayed lower than normal for January. Arctic sea ice coverage was 5.3& below the 1981–2010 average, tying with 2014 as the 8th least amount in the month of January in the 42-year record. Antarctic sea ice coverage during January was 9.8% below average, and tied with January 2011 as the 10th smallest. 

Snow coverage in the Northern Hemisphere was the 18th lowest amount of January snow cover in the 54 year record.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

The climactic change the planet is experiencing is becoming increasingly alarming. I thank the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for continuing to provide observe and report the condition of the planet with such reliability.

I feel that I am seeing the impacts of a warming planet influencing even my personal weather experiences. My hometown has seen strange rainfall patterns unusual for the seasons and temperatures reaching odd highs and lows. While by itself this would otherwise just be a "strange year," as weather can vary year to year, in context with what we know about our planet's overall trend, it is very concerning.

I believe that there is still a window of time to cut back on the pollution that contributes to these climactic changes, but I fear that window is shrinking. Ultimately, the planet is not going anywhere, no matter how the climate changes. The question is, rather, how comfortably we as humans want to be able to live on it.

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