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Global warming: The Earth just had its hottest January in recorded history

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 5 days ago Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
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The new decade is off to a hot start.

The Earth just had its warmest January on record, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday. Global temperature records go back to 1880.

The January 2020 global land and ocean surface temperature 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.

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The most notable warmer-than-average areas included much of Russia and parts of Scandinavia and eastern Canada, where temperatures were as much as 9 degrees above average or higher. 

Here in the U.S., all 48 contiguous states were warmer than average in January, NOAA said last week.

Globally, January 2020 marked the 44th consecutive January and the 421st consecutive month that the planet saw above-average temperatures.

The planet's four warmest Januaries have occurred since 2016, and the 10 warmest Januaries have all occurred since 2002, NOAA said.

Warmer temperatures mean melting snow and ice. The extent of Arctic sea ice was 5.3 percent below the average from 1981-2010, and Antarctic sea ice was 9.8 percent below the average.

The warmth from January continued the unusual warmth from 2019, which was the second-hottest year on record.

The hottest January after the second-hottest year on record “is one of those indications that things are warming dramatically,” said University of Illinois climate scientist Don Wuebbles.

What’s more impressive than the margin of warmth itself is that it occurred without any assistance from an official El Niño event, Weather Underground meteorologist Robert Henson said. El Niño, a natural warming of Pacific Ocean water temperatures, also tends to produce warmer global temperatures.

Global warming image © NASA Global warming image

Looking ahead, NOAA scientists said that 2020 is also "very likely to rank among the five warmest years on record."

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Global warming: The Earth just had its hottest January in recorded history

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