Last month was hottest January on record globally: US climate service

A handout photo made available by Greenpeace shows a group of chinstrap penguins on Elephant Island, Antarctica 11 February 2020. The population of chinstrap penguins fell by up to 77% in some Antarctic colonies in the last fifty years, with an average depopulation of around 60%, the Greenpeace environmental organization said Tuesday. [Handout photo/EPA/EFE]

Last month was the hottest January on record, surpassing a previous high recorded in 2016, the US climate service said Thursday (13 February).

Land and ocean surface temperatures surpassed the 20th century January average of 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius) by 2.05 degrees, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

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

The news confirms a similar finding by the European Union’s climate monitoring service last week, which used slightly different data.

Across much of Russia and parts of Scandinavia and eastern Canada, temperatures were nine degrees above average or higher.

Arctic sea ice coverage in January was 5.3% below the 1981-2010 average, while Antarctic coverage was 9.8% below.

Scientists agree overwhelmingly that manmade greenhouse gas emissions are a significant cause of the planetary warming we are currently experiencing.

The United Nations said last year these need to tumble 7.6% annually over the next decade to cap global warming at 1.5 C (2.7 F) above preindustrial levels, the aspirational goal set in the landmark Paris Agreement.

Current pledges to cut emissions put Earth on a path of several degrees of warming by the end of the century, which will make large swaths of the planet inhospitable for humans and many other species.


Life Terra

Funded by the LIFE Programme of the EU

The content of this publication represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility. The Agency does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.

Subscribe to our newsletters