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Last month was the world’s warmest January on record » Yale Climate Connections


January 2024 was Earth’s warmest January since global record-keeping began in 1850 and was also the planet’s second-wettest January on record, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, or NCEI, reported Feb. 14. NASA also rated January 2024 as the warmest January on record, 1.44 degrees Celsius (2.59 °F) above the 1880-1899 period, which is its best estimate for when preindustrial temperatures occurred. This beat the previous record from January 2016 by 0.03 degrees Celsius (0.05 °F). The Japan Meteorological Agency and the European Copernicus Climate Change Service also rated January 2024 as the warmest January on record.

For the 10th consecutive month, global ocean temperatures were the warmest on record; land areas had their third warmest January on record in 2024, according to NOAA. South America and Africa had their warmest January on record; Oceania and Australia, their third-warmest; Asia, its ninth-warmest; Europe, its 19th-warmest; and North America, its 20th-warmest. In contrast, Antarctica had its fifth-coldest January on record.

The contiguous U.S. had near-average temperatures in January, with only Wisconsin notching a top-10 warmest January on record. No states recorded a top-10 coldest January on record. Thirteen states, 10 of them in the Northeast U.S., had a top-10 wettest January on record.

Map of Land & Ocean Temperature Percentiles in January 2024 showing that most of the world outside Antarctica was warmer than average
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for January 2024, the world’s warmest January since record-keeping began in 1850. (Image credit: NOAA/NCEI)

El Niño weakens, expected to end by June

The strong El Niño event in the Eastern Pacific weakened during January but remained above the strong threshold by the end of the month. Neutral conditions are expected to emerge by the Northern Hemisphere spring (79% chance in April-May-June), NOAA reported in its February monthly discussion of the state of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. Long-range ENSO predictions are typically not reliable until after northern spring, but there is enhanced predictability at this point when a strong El Niño event is in progress. The odds of La Niña in late 2024 are rising, with increasing long-range model support for a transition to La Niña later this year. There is also some climatological support: In records going back to 1950, all four of the El Niño events that were as strong as the current one transitioned to La Niña conditions in the following year.

Read: Will La Niña return this fall? The tea leaves are unusually strong

The February forecast from NOAA and Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society has raised the odds from the previous month, now calling for La Niña to be the most likely outcome as soon as June-August 2024. For the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season (August-September-October), the forecast called for a 74% chance of La Niña, a 24% chance of ENSO-neutral, and a 2% chance of El Niño. El Niño conditions tend to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity through an increase in wind shear, but La Niña conditions tend to have the opposite effect.

Arctic sea ice: 20th-lowest January extent on record

Arctic sea ice extent during January 2024 was the 20th-lowest in the 45-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, or NSIDC, and is approaching its annual maximum, which usually occurs in March (see Tweet above). Though is it heartening to see Arctic sea ice not near a record low, the ice is quite thin, and winter ice extent is a poor indicator of what the summer and fall extent will be.

Antarctic sea ice extent in January was the fourth-lowest on record and was the second-lowest on record on February 13 (see Tweet above). The seasonal maximum typically occurs in late February or early March.

Notable global heat and cold marks for January 2024

The information below is courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera. Follow him on Twitter: @extremetemps:

– Hottest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 41.5°C (106.7°F) at Jesus Maria, Mexico, Jan. 30;
– Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -58.8°C (-73.8°F) at Yurty, Russia, Jan. 1;
– Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 49.4°C (120.9°F) at Birdsville, Australia, Jan. 25; and
– Coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -46.7°C (-52.1°F) at Concordia, Antarctica, Jan. 25.

Major weather stations in January: 14 all-time heat records, 4 all-time cold records

Among global stations with a record of at least 40 years, 14 set, not just tied, an all-time heat record in January, and four stations set an all-time cold record:

La Tontouta (New Caledonia, France) max. 38.3°C, January 1;
Taro Island (Solomon Islands) max. 35.0°C, January 2;
Kvikkjokk (Sweden) min. -43.6°C, January 3;
Tromelin Island (French Southern and Antarctic Lands, France) max. 35.5°C, January 4;
Cilaos (Reunion, France) max. 32.0°C, January 4;
Yoho National Park (Canada) min. -42.6°C, January 13;
Sparwood (Canada) min. -40.3°C, January 13;
Penticton (Canada) min. -27.6°C, January 13;
Monte Patria (Chile) max. 42.0°C, January 14;
Vicuna (Chile) max. 39.1°C, January 14;
Tranque Lautaro (Chile) max. 42.1°C, January 14;
Paraburdoo (Australia) max. 48.1°C, January 21;
Gite de le Bellecombe (Reunion Island, France) max. 25.5°C, January 22;
Talca (Chile) max. 38.8°C, January 22;
Bariloche (Argentina) max. 36.4°C, January 22;
Trelew (Argentina) max. 42.6°C, January 23;
Bogota Airport (Colombia) max. 25.2°C, January 25; and
Malargue Airport (Argentina) max. 37.0°C, January 30.

Sixteen monthly national/territorial heat records beaten or tied as of the end of January

Sixteen nations or territories have set monthly all-time heat records in 2024:

– Jan. (16): Mayotte, Dominica, Saba, Cocos Islands, Malta, Hong Kong, Ivory Coast, Maldives, Andorra, Portugal, Costa Rica, UK, Seychelles, Martinique, St. Barthelemy, Nicaragua

No additional all-time monthly cold records have been set so far in 2024.

Hemispherical and continental temperature records in 2024

– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in January in Asia: 28.5°C (83.3°F) at Bangkok Klong Thoey, Thailand, January 14

Bob Henson contributed to this post.





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