The calendar may have turned to 2016, but temperatures are picking up where 2015 left off. January was record warm, according to data released this week by NASA.
You may recall that last year was the hottest on record for the globe. And by NASA’s accounting, it ended with a bang. This past December was the warmest December on record and the most abnormally warm month on record, too.
That is until now.
This January was the warmest January on record by a large margin while also claiming the title of most anomalously warm month in 135 years of record keeping. The month was 1.13°C — or just a smidge more than 2°F — above normal. That tops December’s record of being 1.11°C — or just a smidge below 2°F — above average.
It marks the fourth month in a row where the globe has been more than 1°C (1.8°F) above normal. Incidentally, those are the only four months where the globe has topped that mark since record keeping began.
Large swaths of the globe were painted red by warmth to the point where it’s easier to talk about where the heat wasn’t (that would be Antarctica, Scandinavia, East Africa and a few parts of Russia for the record). The telltale signal of El Niño’s heat in the Pacific continues to be notable, but it’s the Arctic that truly stands out as the most abnormally warm place on the planet.
According to NASA, temperatures in some parts of the Arctic averaged up to 23°F above normal for the month. No, that’s not missing a decimal point.
The extreme warmth in the region sent sea ice dwindling to a new record low for January. Sea ice extent was 402,000 square miles below average, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. That’s the equivalent of a missing area of sea ice almost four times the size of Colorado, and puts this year right in line with a trend of ever decreasing sea ice in the region as the climate warms.
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SOURCE: Climate Central