Another scorching start to the year across the globe

Climate change supporters can add another marker to the mounting evidence in their corner – January 2018 was officially the fifth warmest start to the year since records began, reveals the monthly State of the Climate report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Boosted in no small part by heatwave-like conditions in parts of Australia, the temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 0.71°C above the 20th century average of 12.0°C

The last four years (2015-2018) now rank among the five hottest Januarys on record, and the new data also extends an unbroken 397 consecutive months (since January 1985) in which temperatures were at least nominally above the 20th century average.

Also worth noting, says NOAA, is that the global land and ocean temperature during January has increased at an average rate of +0.07°C per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase is twice as great since 1975.

state of the climate report

Sydney hit by heatwave

Warmer-than-average conditions engulfed much of Australia with Sydney bearing the brunt of the sweltering heat. The 47.3°C recorded in Penrith Lakes was the hottest day in the city in 80 years.

Regionally, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia had a top eight warm start to the year, with Queensland and Tasmania having the second warmest January on record.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand also felt the blast with a national mean of 20.3°C, which is 3.1°C above the 1981-2010 average. That was the warmest January since national records began in 1909.

Other notable temperature spikes were recorded across the western half of mainland U.S., central and eastern Europe, and northern Russia, where temperature departures from average were +2.0°C, or greater. Record warmth across the land was limited to small areas across the southwestern North America, central Europe, and parts of Oceania.

Oceans also hotter than normal

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

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

Antarctic sea ice extent during the month was 880,595 square kilometres (17.4 percent) below the 1981-2010 average, the second smallest January extent on record. Only the Antarctic sea ice extent in January 2017 was smaller. Below-average ice coverage was observed in the Ross and West Amundsen Seas.

In the Arctic, sea ice was the smallest spread in the 39-year record at 1.35 million square kilometres (9.4 percent) below the 1981-2010 average, according to analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center using data from NOAA and NASA. Sea ice coverage was particularly sparse in the Barents, Kara and Bering Seas.

NOAA data also reveals that rain anomalies during January 2018 varied significantly around the world, as is typical at this time of the year.

Precipitation was above average across parts of eastern half of mainland 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 rain levels. However, several locations across the nation set new precipitation records. Of interest, Nauders in Tyrol (western Austria) had a monthly total of 163mm, resulting in the highest rainfall since records began in 1896.

France was also hard-hit with several regions experiencing two to three times the normal monthly deluge. Overall, the national total was 80% above average and the wettest January since 1959.

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