GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE FOR JANUARY HIGHEST ON RECORD, U.S. TEMPERATURE NEAR AVERAGE FOR MONTH
Feb. 16, 2007 — The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the highest for any January on record, according to scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The most unusually warm conditions were in the mid- and high-latitude land areas of the Northern Hemisphere. In the contiguous United States, the monthly mean temperature was near average in January. (Click NOAA image for larger view of January 2007 global temperature anomalies. Please credit “NOAA.”)
A moderate El Niño episode that began in September 2006 continued into January but weakened during the month. The presence of El Niño, along with the continuing global warming trend, contributed to the record warm January. Monthly mean temperatures more than 8 degrees F above average covered large parts of Eastern Europe and much of Russia, and temperatures more than 5 degrees F above average were widespread in Canada. The unusually warm conditions contributed to the 2nd lowest January snow cover extent on record for the Eurasian continent.
During the past century, global surface temperatures have increased at a rate near 0.11 degrees F (0.06 degrees C) per decade, but the rate of increase has been three times larger since 1976, or 0.32 degrees F (0.18 degrees C) per decade, with some of the largest temperature increases occurring in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.
The same upper-level wind pattern responsible for the warmer-than-average temperatures in the East, brought colder-than-average temperatures to the southern Plains and much of the West in January. Hundreds of daily low temperature records were either tied or broken during a mid-January cold outbreak that extended snowfall as far south as Arizona and southern California. Below-average temperatures had spread across much of the country by the end of the month.
The warmer-than-average temperatures in the eastern half of the nation helped reduce residential energy needs for the nation as a whole. Using the Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI—an index developed at NOAA to relate energy usage to climate), NOAA scientists determined that the nation's residential energy demand was approximately 3 percent lower than what would have occurred under average climate conditions for the month. This was much less than the estimated 20 percent temperature-related reduction in residential energy demand that occurred during the record warm January last year.
A series of snow and ice storms struck the central U.S. in January, with severe winter weather as far south as San Antonio and Houston. Three winter storms affected Oklahoma City. For much of the mountainous West, below-average seasonal snowfall totals persisted. Snowpack was below average throughout most of the West through early February, with only portions of the Northern Cascades and the Front Range of the Rockies in Colorado and New Mexico above average. Snowpack that normally builds during the winter is an important source of water for the western U.S., as spring and summer snow melt flows into reservoirs throughout the region. NOAA scientists caution that if rain and snow patterns don't change soon, more areas of the West could face below-average water supplies this year, despite the fact that reservoirs in the Northwest and California continue to benefit from more snow than average last year.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, drought covered 25 percent of the contiguous U.S. at the end of January. The most severe conditions were in areas of southern Texas, Wyoming, the western High Plains and northern Minnesota.
NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
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