JANUARY 2016 was not only Earth’s warmest January on record, but also featured the largest warm departure from average for any month, according to two separate analyses released this week.
The first month of 2016 started with a global temperature departure of 1.13 degrees Celsius above the 1951-1980 average, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
That may not sound impressive, but ingesting temperature data over the entire surface of the Earth, NASA’s analysis found this was the largest monthly warm temperature anomaly in their database dating to 1880, topping a record set the previous month.
A separate analysis from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting also found January 2016 set a new record-warm anomaly for the globe, 0.72 degrees Celsius above the 1981-2010 average. That reanalysis, however, dates only to 1979.
The Japanese Meteorological Agency’s calculations also found January 2016 was the globe’s warmest on record, but the departure from average was the fourth highest on record for any month behind December (+0.66C), November (+0.54C) and October (+0.53C) all in 2015.
The global record was paced by exceptional warmth in the northern hemisphere polar latitudes, particularly from Alaska and Canada to Greenland and north-central Siberia where temperatures were at least 4 degrees Celsius (roughly 7 degrees Fahrenheit) above January averages, according to NASA.
Incredibly, NASA calculated January temperatures north of 75 degrees north latitude were over 7 degrees Celsius (12.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above average.
Elsewhere, January was also much warmer than average (at least 2 degrees Celsius) over parts of southwest Asia near the Caspian Sea, western Europe, most of western Africa, western South America, Indonesia and the equatorial eastern and central Pacific, associated with the strong El Niño.
There were some colder spots in January, relative to average, including much of Scandinavia, central Russia, the Kamchatka peninsula, northeast Africa, Antarctica and the north Atlantic Ocean from off Newfoundland to Iceland, according to NASA.
The four largest monthly global warm anomalies in NASA’s database have all occurred within the past four months, topped by January 2016.
According to international weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera, new national all-time record highs have been set so far in 2016 in Botswana (43.8 degrees Celsius at Maun), Vanuatu (36.2 degrees Celsius at Lamap Malekula) and the French South Pacific territory of Wallis and Futuna (35.8 degrees Celsius).
Interestingly, Herrera noted Hong Kong set an all-time record low for the territory, dipping to -5.7 degrees Celsius (just under 22 degrees Fahrenheit) atop Tai Mo Shan, the highest peak overlooking Hong Kong at an elevation of 957 meters (3,140 feet) above sea level.
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