Global Snow & Ice - January 2014


NH Snow Cover Extent

January 2014 Snow Cover Extent 1981-2010 Anomaly Trend
(per decade)
Rank
(out of 48 years)
Records
million km2 million mi2 million km2 million mi2 million km2 million mi2 Year(s) million km2 million mi2
Northern Hemisphere 46.03 17.77 -0.84 -0.32 +0.12 +0.05 Largest 39ᵗʰ 2008 50.28 19.41
Smallest 10ᵗʰ 1981 41.89 16.17
North America 17.37 6.71 -0.17 -0.07 -0.01 -0.00 Largest 30ᵗʰ 1985 18.82 7.26
Smallest 19ᵗʰ 1981 16.07 6.20
Eurasia 28.66 11.07 -0.66 -0.25 +0.13 +0.05 Largest 38ᵗʰ 2008 32.27 12.46
Smallest 11ᵗʰ 1981 25.82 9.97

Data Source: Global Snow Laboratory, Rutgers University. Period of record: 1967–2014 (48 years)

The Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent (SCE) during January 2014 was 46.03 million square km (17.77 million square miles), which was 840,000 square km (330,000 square miles) below the 1981-2010 average. This was the 10th smallest January SCE on record for the Northern Hemisphere and the smallest since 2007. This is also the first January since 2007 that the Northern Hemisphere SCE was below the 1981-2010 average. Both North America and Eurasia had below-average January SCE.

During January, the North American SCE was below average, ranking as the 19th smallest January SCE on record. The monthly SCE was 17.37 million square km (6.71 million square miles), 170,000 square km (60,000 square miles) below average. Numerous winter storms brought above-average snow cover to parts of the northern and eastern contiguous United States, but the continental SCE was pulled downward due to much below-average snow cover across the western United States. The contiguous U.S. had below-average SCE, Canada had above-average SCE, and Alaska had near-average SCE for the month.

The Eurasian January SCE was 28.66 million square km (11.07 million square miles), which was 660,000 square km (250,000 square miles) below the 1981-2010 average and the 11th smallest January SCE on record. This was the smallest January SCE for Eurasia since 2007. Below-average SCE was observed across Turkey, Mongolia, and much of China, as well as much of Western and Southern Europe, with the exception of the Alps and southern Scandinavia. Above-average SCE was observed in Eastern Europe, Kazakhstan, and Iran.

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Sea Ice Extent

January 2014 Sea Ice Extent
1981-2010
Anomaly
Trend
(per decade)
Rank
(out of 35 years)
Records
million km2 million mi2 Year(s) million km2 million mi2
Northern Hemisphere 13.73 5.30 -5.51% -3.23% Largest 32ⁿᵈ 1979 15.54 6.00
Smallest 4ᵗʰ 2011 13.57 5.24
Southern Hemisphere 6.71 2.59 +30.04% +3.68% Largest 2ⁿᵈ 2008 6.88 2.66
Smallest 34ᵗʰ 2006 4.25 1.64
Globe 20.44 7.89 +3.81% -1.42% Largest 7ᵗʰ 1979 21.25 8.20
Smallest 29ᵗʰ 2006 17.85 6.89

Data Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Period of record: 1979–2014 (35 years)

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent — which is measured from passive microwave instruments onboard NOAA satellites — averaged for January 2014 was 13.73 million square kilometers (5.30 million square miles), about 800,000 square kilometers (310,000 square miles), or 5.5 percent, less than the 1981-2010 average. This ranked as the fourth smallest January sea ice extent on record. The January 2014 Arctic sea ice extent was about 160,000 square kilometers (61,800 square miles) larger than the record low for the month set in 2011. During the course of the month, Arctic sea ice expanded at a near-average rate. Below-average ice coverage was observed in the Barents Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the Bering Sea, while near-average ice coverage was observed in Baffin Bay, the Labrador Sea, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. January Arctic sea ice extent is decreasing at an average rate of 3.2 percent per decade.

The January 2014 Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent was 6.71 million square km (2.59 million square miles), 1.55 million square km (600,000 square miles), or 30.0 percent, above the 1981-2010 average, ranking as the second largest January Antarctic sea ice extent on record. The January Antarctic sea ice extent is highly variable, with the record smallest and largest January sea ice extents occurring within the past eight years. The record smallest January sea ice extent occurred in 2006 at 4.25 million square km (1.64 million square miles), and the record largest January sea ice extent occurred in 2008 at 6.88 million square km (2.66 million square miles). January Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent is increasing at an average rate of 3.7 percent per decade, with substantial interannual variability.

When combining the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere sea ice extents, the globally-averaged sea ice extent during January was 20.44 million square km (7.89 million square miles), 3.8 percent above the 1981-2010 average and the seventh largest January global sea ice extent on record. This marked the first January since 2009 with above-average global sea ice extent and the largest January global sea ice extent since 2008. Global sea ice extent during January is decreasing at an average rate of 1.4 percent per decade.

For further information on the Northern and Southern Hemisphere snow and ice conditions, please visit the NSIDC News page.

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Snow & Ice for January 2014, published online February 2014, retrieved on October 2, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global-snow/2014/1.