Global Climate Numbers for January: 17th Warmest on Record
Last week we provided you with a run-down of how January 2011 ranked against previous years in terms of average temperatures and precipitation in the U.S.. If you don’t remember the stats — or you’ve managed to block out the memory of how teeth-chattering cold you felt throughout the month — January was colder and drier than average.
Today, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) released a global analysis of last month's temperatures and precipitation, finding that it was the 17th warmest January on record, with global average combined land and ocean surface temperatures running 0.68°F above the 20th century average.
A map of global temperature departures from average for January 2011. Blue markers indicate areas with below average temperatures; red markers indicate above average temperatures. Credit: NOAA.
The new data also shows the U.S. wasn’t the only country blasted by exceptionally cool air. China experienced their second coldest January, though complete records there only go back to 1961. On the other hand, most of Canada and Siberia — large expanses of land — experienced temperatures well above average, and as mentioned last week, Arctic sea ice extent reached its lowest January extent on record.
Overall, sea surface temperatures last month were the 11th warmest recorded for the month of January. Sea surface temperatures were, however, the warmest they've ever been during January when La Niña conditions were present, indicating that in spite of below average sea surface temperatures throughout the eastern equatorial Pacific, the waters in most other regions of the globe were warm enough to offset the effects of La Niña. La Niña conditions are still present, but its intensity looks to be waning. Yesterday, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center announced that sea surface temperatures are not quite as cool as they had been in parts of the Pacific. Forecasters are not yet able to predict if this spells the end of the current La Niña, but it appears there is a 50/50 chance that by May 2010, average conditions will be restored in the Pacific.
Global analyses from NCDC are typically released a few days later than the national statistics, because more time is needed to compile the data coming in from around the world.
NCDC also reports that despite recent political unrest in Tunisia and Egypt, meteorologists in those countries still managed to report their monthly statistics for January 2011, which helped provide a complete global analysis.