Ag Weather Forum

World Warm Streak Continued in January

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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January 2018 was cold in parts of the U.S. and Asia, but well above normal on warmth in many other locations. (National Centers of Environmental Information graphic)

The following are some highlights of the January State of the Climate report, compiled and published by the National Centers of Environmental Information, formerly the National Climate Data Center. -- Bryce


The January 2018 temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 0.71 degree Celsius (1.28 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average of 12.0 C (53.6 F). January 2018 marks the 42nd consecutive January (since 1977) and the 397th consecutive month (since January 1985) with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average.

This was the fifth highest temperature for January in the 1880-2018 record. The last four years (2015-2018) rank among the five highest Januarys on record. The global land and ocean temperature during January has increased at an average rate of plus 0.07 degree C (plus 0.13 degree F) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase is twice as great since 1975.

Notable warm anomalies were present across the western half of the contiguous U.S., central and eastern Europe, and northern Russia, where temperature departures from average were plus 2.0 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) or greater. Record warmth across the land was limited to small areas across the southwestern North America, central Europe, and parts of Oceania. Near- to cooler-than-average conditions were present across the eastern half of North America, central Africa, and central and eastern parts of Asia.

The most notable cool temperature departures from average, minus 3.0 degrees C (minus 5.4 degrees F) or lower, were present across central Asia. However, no land areas had record-cold temperatures during January 2018. The January 2018 global land surface temperature departure from average of plus 1.11 degrees C (plus 2.00 degrees F) was the lowest since 2013 and the eighth highest January land global temperature on record. According to NCEI's Regional Analysis, Oceania had its warmest January on record, while Europe had its second warmest January, behind 2007. Meanwhile, South America had its lowest temperature departure since 2011.

Select national information is highlighted below:

Austria had its third warmest January in its 251-year temperature record at 3.8 degrees C (6.8 degrees F) above average.

The national average temperature for Germany for January 2018 was 3.4 degrees C (6.1 degrees F) above the 1981-2010 average and the sixth warmest January since national records began in 1881.

France's January 2018 national average temperature was 8.4 C (47.1 F), which is 3.4 degrees C (6.1 degrees F) above the 1981-2010 average and the highest January temperature since national records began in 1900. (That is an astounding leap over average. -- Bryce)

Warmer-than-average conditions engulfed much of Australia during January 2018. Australia had its third highest January mean temperature in the nation's 109-year record, with a mean temperature of 1.28 degrees C (2.3 degrees F) above the 1961-1990 average. Regionally, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia had a top eight warm year, with Queensland and Tasmania having the second warmest January on record.

The national mean temperature for New Zealand was 20.3 C (68.5 F), which is 3.1 degrees C (5.6 degrees F) above the 1981-2010 average. This was the warmest January since national records began in 1909, exceeding the previous record set in 1956 by plus 1.2 degree C (plus 2.2 degrees F). January 2018 was also the warmest month for any month on record. Regionally, several locations set record to near-record January temperatures. Of note, Christchurch and Hokitika had their warmest January since records began in 1863 and 1866, respectively.

Across the oceans, warmer-than-average conditions dominated across much of the world's oceans during January 2018, with record warmth observed across parts of the north Atlantic Ocean (off the coast of Portugal), and the central and southwestern Pacific Ocean.

Near- to cooler-than-average conditions was present across parts of the northern and southern Pacific, as well as the tropical Pacific from the International Dateline to the west coast of South America. Parts of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean were also cooler than average. Record-cold ocean surface temperature was limited to a small area in the south-central Pacific Ocean.

Averaged as a whole, the global ocean surface temperature for January 2018 was 0.56 degrees C (1.01 degrees F) above the 20th century average of 15.8 C (60.5 F). This value tied with 1998 as the fifth highest global ocean temperature for January in the 139-year record.

La Nina was present across the tropical Pacific Ocean during January 2018. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, A transition from La Nina to ENSO-neutral will most likely occur during the Northern Hemisphere spring (Southern Hemisphere autumn). This forecast focuses on the ocean surface temperatures between 5 degrees N and 5 degrees S latitude and 170 degrees W to 120 degrees W longitude, called the Nino 3.4 region.


Precipitation was above average across parts of eastern half of the contiguous U.S, Canada, northern Argentina, Paraguay, northern, central, and eastern Europe, northern, central, and southeastern Asia, and western Australia. It was notably dry across the south-central contiguous U.S., northeastern Brazil, southern half of Argentina, southern Europe, southern Asia, southern Africa, and eastern Australia.

January 2018 was Austria's wettest January since 1982 at 170% of normal January precipitation.

Several storms affected France during January 2018. Several locations had two to three times the monthly normal precipitation for the month. The national precipitation total was 80% above average and the wettest January since 1959.

January 2018 was characterized by above-average precipitation across Ireland, with some locations receiving nearly double their monthly normal precipitation total.

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