After logging in the warmest year on record in 2023, the world in January marked another morbid milestone with global temperatures in January reaching higher than ever, EU scientists confirmed Thursday.
This is the eighth month in a row that was the warmest on record for the respective month of the year, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service said.
The average surface air temperature was 13.14 degrees Celsius (55.65200 degrees Fahrenheit) in January, which was 0.7 degrees higher than the average for the reference period from 1991 to 2020. The previous warmest January had occurred in 2020.
The principle climate information used by Copernicus goes back to 1950, although some earlier data is also available.
When making a comparison even farther back in time, the exceptional rise becomes even more apparent: The average January temperature in 2024 was 1.66 degrees higher than the estimated average for the month between 1850 and 1900.
According to Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service: “2024 starts with another record-breaking month – not only is it the warmest January on record but we have also just experienced a 12-month period of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial reference period.
“Rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are the only way to stop global temperatures increasing.”
Regional differences were evident across the globe, however.
The picture in Europe was mixed last month. While it was significantly cooler in the Nordic countries than the average for the reference period, it was significantly warmer in the south of the continent.
It was also warmer than average in eastern Canada, north-west Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, while western Canada, the central United States and most of Siberia were colder than average.
The weather phenomenon El Nino has begun to weaken in the equatorial Pacific, but air temperatures over the ocean remain at unusually high levels, the Copernicus statement added. The recurring weather phenomenon heats up the Pacific every few years.
The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service regularly publishes data on the Earth’s surface temperature, sea ice cover and precipitation.
The findings are based on computer-generated analyses that incorporate billions of measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world.