Earth just recorded its hottest January in history

February 14, 2020, 11:27 a.m.
Ducks warm themselves in an unfrozen part of a pond in Tsaritsyno park in Moscow.
Photo: YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images

Last month was the hottest January in the 141 years that records have been kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The average global land and ocean surface temperature in January 2020 was 2.05 degrees F (1.14 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 53.6 F (12 C), according to NOAA. This slightly surpasses the previous record set in 2016 by 0.04 degrees F (0.02 degrees C).

Of the 1,681 months of data recorded, only March 2016, February 2016 and December 2015 had a greater temperature departure from average.

NOAA January 2020 temperature map January 2020 was the 44th consecutive January with temperatures above the 20th century average. (Photo: NOAA)

Record-breaking January temperatures follow other notably warm news: 2019 was Earth's second-hottest year in recorded history. It ended the warmest decade ever measured. And the superlatives continue as January marks the 44th consecutive January — and the 421st consecutive month overall — with temperatures above the 20th century average.

The four warmest Januaries have occurred since 2016, NOAA says, with the 10 warmest Januaries all happening since 2002.

Last month, the most notable warmer-than-average temperatures on land were found in parts of Russia (above), Scandinavia and eastern Canada, where temperatures were 9 F (5 C) or higher. Record warm surface temperatures were noted across parts of Scandinavia, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the central and western Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and Central and South America.

Don't look for things to cool off anytime soon. According to an analysis by scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, 2020 will likely rank as one of the five warmest years on record.