January was the hottest it’s been in recorded history

NEW YORK — The year has started with the hottest January in the 141 years that global records have been kept, and it’s the biggest record-breaking margin —1.14 degrees Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average —achieved without help from a warming El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean.

The new monthly record set by January 2020, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, continues an aggressive trend toward higher temperatures. The four hottest Januarys on record have all occurred since 2016, and the top-10 warmest have all occurred since 2002.

The new global record set by January 2020 comes just one week after the coldest continent, Antarctica, set high marks for warm temperatures. Argentine researchers measured 18.3 degrees Celsius (65 degrees Fahrenheit) on Feb. 6, almost a full degree above the previous high set five years ago.

Last month marked the hottest January ever in Europe, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, with surface temperatures 3.1 degrees Celsius (37 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than average. No region of the Earth’s land or ocean set cold records. Polar sea ice extent and Northern Hemisphere snowfall finished January below average.