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Record Warmth In 2016

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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Almost all areas of the world were either much above normal or record-warmest through the first 11 months of 2016. (NOAA graphic by Nick Scalise)

Highlights of the temperature discussion in the most recent NOAA State of the Climate report, from mid-December, are featured in this posting. The temperature trend is emphasized, because world temperatures likely set a new record in 2016.--Bryce

With only one month left in the year, the 2016 year-to-date global temperature (January--November) was the highest on record for this period, at 0.94 degree Celsius (1.69 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th-century average of 14.0 deg C (57.2 deg F). This value exceeded the previous record set in 2015 by 0.07 deg C (0.13 deg F). Unless the December global temperature is 0.25 deg C (0.41 deg F) or less above the 20th-century monthly average, 2016 will at least tie 2015 as the warmest year in the 137-year record. The last month for which the departure from average was that low was November 2000.

Much-warmer-than-average conditions engulfed the vast majority of the world's land surfaces, resulting in a record warm January--November period, at 1.43 deg C (2.57 deg F) above the 20th century average, besting the previous record set in 2015 by 0.16 deg C (0.29 deg F). Record warmth for the year-to-date was present across Alaska, much of western Canada, parts of the northern and eastern United States, much of Central America and northern South America, various regions across Africa, parts of northern and southern Asia, much of southeast Asia island nations, and parts of Australia, especially along the northern and eastern coasts. According to National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) Global Regional analysis, all six continents had at least a top four warm January--November period, with North America experiencing its highest January-November average temperature since continental records began in 1910.

The average global sea surface temperature for the year-to-date was the highest in the 137-year record, at 0.76 deg C (1.37 deg F) above average, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.03 deg C (0.05 deg F). Record high average sea surface temperatures for the January--November period were present across the northern Pacific waters near Alaska, the Bering Sea, parts of the southern and western Pacific, a long swath of the western Atlantic stretching to the Gulf of Mexico, parts of the southern and eastern Indian Ocean extending across the waters of the southeastern Asia island nations and Oceania. The only ocean area with record cold temperatures was east of the Drake Passage near the Antarctic Peninsula.

The three-month period was characterized by warmer- to much-warmer-than-average temperatures across much of the global land and ocean surfaces. Record warmth was notable across large portions of North America, northern Far East Russia, parts of central western and central eastern Africa, and parts of the western equatorial and southern Pacific Ocean. No land areas observed record cold temperatures for the September--November period, although parts of central Siberia, eastern Asia, and the Indian Ocean waters off the tip of southwestern Australia were much cooler than average. According to NCEI's Global Regional analysis, the September-November period was warmest on record for North America and second warmest on record for Africa, behind only 2015, in the 107-year continental record.

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