The warming trend continues: both NASA and NOAA report that the month of January 2016 was one for the record books yet again. Hot on the heels of the hottest year on record, January broke yet another record for global average temperatures for that month, the ninth straight month to do so, at 1.04ºC (1.87ºF) above the 1951-1980 average. This January’s temperature departure was surpassed only by the previous month (December 2015, at 1.11ºC (2.00ºF) above average); this marks the first time on record that two back-to-back months surpassed the 1.0ºC temperature departure.
Curiously, the data shows an uneven distribution in terms of where these temperature increases were seen: the further north one looked, the hotter the temperatures. Aside from a record-breaking El Niño in the Pacific and other high-temperature anomalies around the globe, the real standout was the Arctic, where temperatures soared 4ºC (7.2ºF) above average, with temperatures reaching 7ºC (13.5ºF) above average near the North Pole.
Going hand-in-hand with these above average temperatures, Arctic sea ice also saw a record low last month, with the ice sheet coming in at 1.04 million square kilometers (402,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average. This currently surpasses the previous record low from January 2012, and is projected to continue to remain well below average for the remainder of the season.