Hottest January in Earth’s history recorded in 2020

Map of Earth with seven red spots and two blue spots

Map of Earth with seven red spots and two blue spots

Last month was the warmest January recorded on Earth, by a whisker, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says.

Warmer temperatures mean melting snow and ice.

Things weren't so unusual in New Zealand, with Niwa reporting earlier that the nationwide average temperature for the month - as measured through its seven station series - was 17.2 degrees Celsius.

Map of Earth covered mostly with pink dark pink and red areas showing higher than average temperatures
View larger. | Image via NOAA

The Arctic sea ice extent was 5.3 percent below the 1981 to 2010 average, tying with 2014 as the eighth-smallest January extent in the 42-year record, while the Antarctic sea ice coverage during January was 9.8 percent below the average and tied with January 2011 as the 10th smallest, according to the NOAA. Temperatures were well above average in the second half of the month. According to the US NOAA, much of Russian Federation had temperatures at least 5C above average in January. While these areas had record-warm temperatures, no land or ocean areas showed record-cold January temperatures.

Providing a detailed account of the changing temperatures, NOAA said: "The Northern Hemisphere also had its warmest January on record, at 2.70 degrees F (1.50 degrees C) above average".

And they beat January 2016 - the hottest January since records began in 1880 - by a narrow 0.04 degrees. 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.

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