- The January 2020 heat broke the previous record set in January 2016.
- The most notable warmer areas include much of Russia and parts of Scandinavia and eastern Canada.
- January 2020 marked the 421th consecutive month in which the planet saw above average temperatures.
The new decade is off to a hot start.
Earth had its warmest January on record, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday. Global temperature records date back to 1880.
The global temperature of the Earth and ocean surface in January 2020 was 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average of 53.6 degrees, NOAA said. This broke the previous record set in January 2016.
The most notable warmer-than-average areas include much of Russia and parts of Scandinavia and eastern Canada, where temperatures were 9 degrees above average or higher.
Here in the US, all 48 contiguous states were hotter than average in January, NOAA said last week.
Globally, January 2020 marked the 44th consecutive January and the 421th consecutive month in which the planet saw above average temperatures.
The four warmest January on the planet have occurred since 2016, and the 10 warmest January have occurred since 2002, NOAA said.
Warmer temperatures mean melting snow and ice. The extent of Arctic sea ice was 5.3% below the 1981-2010 average, and Antarctic sea ice was 9.8% below the average.
The January heat continued the unusual heat of 2019, which was the second hottest year on record.
The hottest month in January, after the second warmest year on record, "is one of those indications that things are heating up dramatically," said Don Wuebbles, a climate scientist at the University of Illinois.
What is more impressive than the heat margin itself is that it occurred without the assistance of an official El Niño event, said Weather Underground meteorologist Robert Henson. El Niño, a natural warming of water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, also tends to produce warmer global temperatures.
In the future, NOAA scientists said that 2020 is also "very likely to be among the five warmest years on record".
Contribution: Associated Press