Ag Weather Forum

World Record-High January Temps

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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A warm January featured many record-warm regions. We've seen this frequently. (NOAA graphic by Nick Scalise)

Here are some highlights of the January NOAA world climate report. The main feature -- once again -- is the onward-and-upward trend toward warmer temperatures. Did El Nino play a part? Yes -- however, general global warming was also a big feature as illustrated by northern Siberia temperatures reaching 9 -- NINE -- degrees Fahrenheit above average during January. --Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

A strong El Nino that evolved in 2015 continued to impact global weather and temperatures at the beginning of 2016. The January 2016 globally-averaged temperature across land and ocean surfaces was 1.04 deg C (1.87 deg F) above the 20th century average of 12.0 deg C (53.6 deg F), the highest for January in the 137-year period of record, breaking the previous record of 2007 by 0.16 deg C (0.29 deg F). This departure from average is the second highest among all months in the historical record, second only to December 2015, which was 1.11 deg C (2.00 deg F) above average. These two months are the only two to date to surpass a monthly temperature departure of 1 deg C. January 2016 also marks the ninth consecutive month that the monthly temperature record has been broken and the 14th consecutive month (since December 2014) that the monthly global temperature ranked among the three warmest for its respective month.

Separately, the global land surface temperature was 1.56 deg C (2.81 deg F) above average, the second highest on record for January, behind only 2007. Record warmth was observed across a swath of northern Siberia where temperatures rose at least 5 deg C (9 deg F) above the 1981--2010 monthly average, as well as across parts of southeastern Asia, southwestern Asia and the Middle East, most of southern Africa, and areas of Central and South America. Nearly all of the South American continent was much warmer than average. Northern Mexico, Scandinavia, and Central Asia around Mongolia were cooler than average, with a couple of areas that experienced much cooler-than-average temperatures. Parts of far western Russia and central Asia observed temperatures at least 5 deg C below average for the month.

Select national information is highlighted below:

Northeasterly flows brought warmer-than-average weather to much of New Zealand in January. All of the North Island and the northern and western regions of the South Island were above to well above average for the month. Overall, the nation-wide temperature was 0.6 deg C (1.1 deg F) higher than the 1981--2010 average.

Though not as extreme as the past few months, temperatures remained above the 1961--1990 average across Australia during January. The average mean temperature for the month was +0.52 deg C (+0.94 deg F). Tasmania was the warm spot, with an average mean temperature that was 1.79 deg C (3.22 deg F) above average, its second highest for January, behind only 1961. National records begin in 1910.

In Germany, the January temperature was 0.8 deg C (1.4 deg F) higher than the 1981--2010 average.

The year also started out warmer than normal in Austria. The average January temperature was 1.3 deg C (2.3 deg F) above the 1981--2010 average.

Sweden was colder than average across most of the country for January, with a mix of mild, cold, and mild again weather patterns through the month. On January 7th, the temperature dropped to -42.9 deg C (-45.2 deg F) in Naimakka, the lowest temperature recorded in Sweden during any month since 2001

It was also a colder-than-average January in Finland, particularly in the southern and central regions, with temperatures 4-7 deg C (7--11 deg F) below the 1981--2010 average.

The January national temperature for Iceland was 0.2 deg C (0.4 deg F) higher than the 1961--1990 average, but 1.0 deg C (1.8 deg F) lower than the average over the past 10 years. Not all locations in Iceland were warmer than average, however; Akureyri had its coldest January since 1995.

In Canada, Ontario was warmer than normal at the start of 2016. Temperatures in northern Ontario and the Far North were 2--5 deg C (4--9 deg F) higher than the 1961--1990 average.

According to CIIFEN, much of South America had January temperatures around 2.0 deg C (3.6 deg F) above the 1981--2010 average; however, Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil observed temperatures about 0.5 deg C (0.9 deg F) below average.

For the oceans, the globally-averaged temperature departure of +0.86 deg C (+1.55 deg F) from the 20th century average was the highest on record for January, surpassing the previous record of 2010 by 0.25 deg C (0.45 deg F). Record warmth was observed in all major ocean basins: various regions of the eastern and western Atlantic, particularly near coasts, part of the Barents Sea in the Arctic; the Southeast Indian Ocean to the south of Australia; most of the North Indian Ocean; parts of the eastern and central equatorial Pacific; and the western Mediterranean Sea. Near-record strong El Nino conditions prevailed in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during the month, where the Oceanic Nino Index tied as the highest on record with the same general period in 1998. However, the January 2016 global ocean temperature is 0.29 deg C (0.52 deg F) higher than the monthly temperature for January 1998.

According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, as of early February 2016, the strong El Nino is expected to weaken and likely transition to ENSO-neutral during late Northern Hemisphere spring or early summer 2016, with a possible transition to La Nina conditions during the fall.

Elsewhere, much cooler-than-average conditions remained in the North Atlantic waters south of Greenland and were seen in parts of the Southern Ocean.

As is typical, precipitation anomalies during January 2016 varied significantly around the world. Precipitation was especially high across parts of eastern Brazil and areas of southern South America, much of western Europe, western Mongolia, some coastal regions in southeastern China, and much of the coastline along southern and southwestern Australia. It was notably dry across part of western Mexico, parts of both northern and southern South America, sections of southern, north central, and eastern Asia, far northwestern Africa, and small areas of western and southern Australia.

The tropical air that flowed over New Zealand during January brought not only warmth but wetness, extreme in some areas. Precipitation totals were more than 149 percent of normal across the northern and eastern portions of both islands. On the South Island the port city of Timaru received almost three times its typical January rainfall. More than half of that total (81 mm) was received in one day, marking the highest single day rainfall total since records began there in 1881.

It was also wet in Ireland. Dublin airport reported its wettest January since 1948, with 118.4 mm (4.7 inches) of rainfall, close to twice its monthly average.

Following its wettest December on record, the United Kingdom received 152 percent of its average rainfall during January, marking its fourth wettest January since records began in 1910. Eastern Scotland observed its second wettest month among all months in its record.

In January, Colombia, Venezuela, and the southern highlands of Peru were experiencing severe dryness, which impacted agriculture, water supplies, and power generation. Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina experienced flooding, which impacted thousands of residents, as reported by CIIFEN.

Full report is here:…



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Bryce Anderson
2/22/2016 | 10:21 AM CST
We had a devastating indicator of the amount of energy in the oceans in the form of Tropical Cyclone Winston, which caused extensive damage on the island of Fiji Saturday Feb 20. My colleague Joel Burgio notes that authorities are calling this storm the most powerful storm on record in the Southern Hemisphere.
Bryce Anderson
2/22/2016 | 10:17 AM CST
Thanks for the question. Ocean temperatures are tracked by both networks of drifting buoys and by satellite networks. There are many different drifting buoys around the world. Their measurements are beamed to satellites for automated and immediate data distribution. There's also a large network of coastal buoys in U.S. waters maintained by the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC). And in the Pacific Ocean, an extensive array of moored and drifting buoys is in place to help monitor and predict El Nino. Satellites have also been part of the ocean temperature analysis scene since the early 1980s.
2/21/2016 | 9:53 PM CST
Thanks for the temperature map, very helpful in understanding the climate on a global scale. I see many of the record warmest and coldest segments are in the far reaches of the ocean. How are these readings acquired.