Story at a glance

  • January 2020 clocked in at 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average of 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • That broke the previous record set in 2016 by 0.04 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • It was the 44th consecutive January with temperatures about the 20th century average.

The Earth just experienced the hottest January in recorded history last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Thursday.

NOAA reported global land and ocean temperatures last month exceeded all temperatures recorded in the past 141 years of data at 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average of 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit. NOAA said record hot temperatures were recorded in Asia, Central and South America, Scandinavia, the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and the central and western Pacific Ocean. 

Last month surpassed January 2016, which held the record for warmest January, by 0.04 degrees Fahrenheit.

Russia, Scandinavia and eastern Canada saw the biggest changes, with some areas seeing temperatures at least 9 degrees Fahrenheit above average.

It was the 44th consecutive January, and the 421st consecutive month, with temperatures above the 20th century average. The four warmest Januaries recorded have all taken place since 2016, and the 10 warmest have occurred since 2002, according to NOAA. 

Hotter temperatures also shrank Arctic sea ice coverage. Ice coverage was 5.3 percent below average. Meanwhile, Antarctic sea ice coverage also suffered, as it was reported to be 9.8 percent below average. 

Published on Feb 13, 2020