NewsDecember 17, 2012

November Is Globe's 333rd Straight Month of Warm Temps

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Andrew Freedman

By Andrew Freedman

The month of November continued an unbroken streak of warmer-than-average temperatures that dates all the way back to 1985 — the year the hit film “Back to the Future” first hit theaters — with global average surface temperatures ranking as the fifth-warmest such month on record, according to figures released Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). November was the 333rd month in a row with a global average surface temperature that was above the 20th century average, a clear sign of the warming trend that scientific evidence shows is due at in large part to manmade emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.

Surface temperature departures from average during November 2012.
Click to enlarge the image.
Credit: NOAA

To put it another way, if you are under the age of 27, you have never experienced a month in which global average surface temperatures came in below the 20th century average, as the environmental news web site Grist said in October.

For the year-to-date, NOAA reported that 2012 is on track to be the eighth warmest year on record, due largely to near-record warmth over land areas from April to September, and above-average sea surface temperatures. The September-to-November period was especially mild, coming in just behind 2005 for the second-warmest such period on record.

Much of the world saw warmer-than-average temperatures during November. Warmer-than-average weather affected Australia, the Central and Western U.S., northern Africa, far eastern Russia, and central Asia. The small European nation of Croatia was particularly mild during November, with temperatures ranging from 4.3°F to 7.9°F above average during the month.

There were some exceptions. The cool spots were found in Alaska, Canada, and the eastern U.S., NOAA said.

Land and Ocean surface temperature anomalies during the year-to-date compared to past years.
Click to enlarge the image.
Credit: NOAA.

The U.S. had its 20th warmest November on record, but very warm weather earlier in the year ensures that it’s virtually certain that 2012 will displace 1998 as the warmest year on record for the contiguous U.S., according to NOAA and Climate Central's own research.

The global average surface temperature, which includes both land-based readings and ocean temperature reports, was 56.41°F, which was 1.21°F above the 20th century average.

Global average sea surface temperatures were nearly 1°F above the 20th century average, and in the equatorial tropical Pacific Ocean, where El Niño and La Niña events occur, sea surface temperatures were slightly above average.

Snow cover rapidly advanced across much of the Northern Hemisphere during November, and the month had the fifth-largest monthly snow cover extent in the 47-year period of record. Eurasia, in particular, saw above-average snowfall, recording its eighth-largest snow cover extent for November, while North American snow cover was the 12th-largest for the month. However, most of that snow was in Canada, which experienced above-average snow cover during November. The U.S. saw below-average snow cover than it typically does for the month.

In the Arctic, sea ice continued to rebound from the record low sea ice extent recorded in September, but despite a rapid re-freezing of open ocean areas, November sea ice extent remained at 12.2 percent below average, which was the third-smallest November sea ice extent on record, NOAA said.

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