Last month was the 17th warmest January for combined global land and ocean surface temperature since records began in 1880. La Niña, with its cooling effect on the central and eastern tropical Pacific, continues to be a factor in global ocean temperatures.
The monthly analysis from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.
Global Temperature Highlights
• The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for January 2011 was the 17th warmest on record at 54.28 F (12.38 C), which is 0.68 F (0.38 C) above the 20th century average of 53.6 F (12.0 C). The range associated with this temperature is plus or minus 0.14 F (0.08 C).
• The January worldwide land surface temperature was 0.81 F (0.45 C) above the 20th century average of 37.0 F (2.8 C). This was the 29th warmest January on record for the land surface. The range associated with this temperature is plus or minus 0.25 F (0.14 C). Warmer-than-average conditions were particularly felt across the eastern half of Canada, Iran and much of Siberia. Cooler-than-average regions included southern Siberia, Mongolia and most of China.
• According to the Beijing Climate Center, last month was China’s second coolest average January temperature since national records began in 1961.
• The January worldwide ocean surface temperature was 0.63 F (0.35 C) above the 20th century average of 60.5 F (15.8 C). This was the 11th warmest January on record for the ocean surface. The range associated with this temperature is plus or minus 0.13 F (0.07 C). The warmth was most pronounced across the South Pacific Ocean, the southern Indian Ocean and part of the North Atlantic located near Greenland and Canada.
• Moderate-to-strong La Niña conditions continued in January, as sea surface temperatures remained below-normal across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, La Niña conditions may persist but should be weaker, if not neutral, by MayJune 2011.
Polar Sea Ice and Precipitation Highlights
• The average Arctic sea ice extent for January was 5.23 million square miles (13.55 million square km), which was 8.7 percent below average. This ranks as the smallest January Arctic sea ice extent since records began in 1979 and the second consecutive month with record low Arctic ice extent.
• The January 2011 Antarctic sea ice extent was 7.5 percent below normal, and was the eighth smallest January ice extent since records began in 1979.
• According to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, flooding in that nation was widespread in southeast Queensland and Victoria. Average monthly rainfall across Victoria was the highest January rainfall in the 112-year period of record. On Jan. 10, six inches (152 mm) of rain fell in just 30 minutes near the town of Toowoomba. Downstream, the Brisbane River crested at nearly 17 feet (5 meters) in the city of Brisbane and inundated over 10,000 homes and businesses.
• The January 2011 snow cover extent for the Northern Hemisphere was 0.68 million square miles (1.76 million square km) above the long-term average of 17.6 million square miles (46.7 million square km), marking the fourth consecutive January with above-average snow cover extent for the Northern Hemisphere.
Scientists, researchers and leaders in government and industry use NOAA’s monthly reports to help track trends and other changes in the world's climate. This climate service has a wide range of practical uses, from helping farmers know what and when to plant, to guiding resource managers with critical decisions about water, energy and other vital assets.