Last Month Was 7th Warmest January in Recorded History


The combined global land and ocean surface average temperature for January 2009 was the seventh warmest since records began in 1880, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

The analyses in NCDC’s global reports are based on preliminary data, which are subject to revision. Additional quality control is applied to the data when late reports are received several weeks after the end of the month and as increased scientific methods improve NCDC’s processing algorithms.

Temperature Highlights

    * The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for January was 54.55 degrees F, 0.95 degree F above the 20th century mean of 53.6 degrees F.

    * Separately, the global land surface temperature was 38.67 degrees F, 1.67 degrees F above the 20th century mean of 37.0 degrees F, ranking as eighth warmest on record.

    * The global ocean surface temperature of 61.20 degrees F ranked as seventh warmest on record and was 0.70 degree F above the 20th century mean of 60.5 degrees F.

Global Highlights for January

    * Snowstorms swept across countries in northern and eastern Europe and reached as far south as Spain and northern Italy. The United Kingdom experienced some of the lowest temperatures in 15 years.

    * Based on NOAA satellite observations of snow cover extent, 11.3 million square miles (29.3 million square kilometers) of Eurasia (Europe and Asia) were covered by snow in January, which is near the 1966-2009 average of 11.4 million square miles (29.5 million square kilometers).

    * Satellite-based snow cover extent for North America was 6.8 million square miles (17.6 million square kilometers) in January, which is near average. The January satellite-based snow cover extent for the Northern Hemisphere was 18.1 million square miles (46.9 million square kilometers), which also is near average.

    * Arctic sea ice coverage was at its sixth lowest January extent since satellite records began in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Average ice extent during January was 5.43 million square miles. The Arctic sea ice pack usually expands during the cold season, reaching a maximum in March, then contracts during the warm season, reaching a minimum in September.

    * Moderate-to-severe drought encompassed parts of east-central China and the Tibet province.  Excessive heat plagued southern Australia in January, breaking several temperature records. The temperature at Adelaide spiked to 114 degrees F (45.7 degrees C) on January 28, making it the location's hottest day in 70 years.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.



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