Global Analysis - January 2013

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Note: GHCN-M Data Notice

An omission in processing a correction algorithm led to some small errors on the Global Historical Climatology Network-Monthly dataset (GHCN-M v3.2.0). This led to small errors in the reported land surface temperatures in the October, November, December and Annual U.S. and global climate reports. On February 14, 2013, NCDC fixed this error in its software, included an additional improvement (described below), and implemented both changes as GHCN-M version 3.2.1. With this update to GHCN-M, the Merged Land and Ocean Surface Temperature dataset also is subsequently revised as MLOST version 3.5.3.

The net result of this new version of GHCN-M reveals very small changes in temperature and ranks. The 2012 U.S. temperature is 0.01°F higher than reported in early January, but still remains approximately 1.0°F warmer than the next warmest year, and approximately 3.25°F warmer than the 20th century average. The U.S. annual time series from version 3.2.1 is almost identical to the series from version 3.2.0 and that the 1895-2012 annual temperature trend remains 0.13°F/decade. The trend for certain calendar months changed more than others (discussed below). For the globe, ranks of individual years changed in some instances by a few positions, but global land temperature trends changed no more than 0.01°C/century for any month since 1880.

NCDC uses two correction processes to remove inhomogeneities associated with factors unrelated to climate such as changes in observer practices, instrumentation, and changes in station location and environment that have occurred through time. The first correction for time of observation changes in the United States was inadvertently disabled during late 2012. That algorithm provides for a physically based correction for observing time changes based on station history information. NCDC also routinely runs a .pairwise correction. algorithm that addresses such issues, but in an indirect manner. It successfully corrected for many of the time of observation issues, which minimized the effect of this processing omission.

The version 3.2.1 release also includes the use of updated data to improve quality control and correction processes of other U.S. stations and neighboring stations in Canada and Mexico.

Compared to analyses released in January 2013, the trend for certain calendar months has changed more than others. This effect is related to the seasonal nature of the reintroduced time-of-observation correction. Trends in U.S. winter temperature are higher while trends in summer temperatures are lower. For the globe, ranks of individual years changed in some instances by a few positions, but global temperature trends changed no more than 0.01°C/century for any month since 1880.

More complete information about this issue is available at this supplemental page.

NCDC will not update the static reports from October through December 2012 and the 2012 U.S and Global annual reports, but will use the current dataset (GHCN-M v. 3.2.1 and MLOST v. 3.5.3) for the January 2013 report and other comparisons to previous months and years.

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Contents of this Section:

Global Highlights

  • The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for January 2013 tied with 1995 as the ninth warmest January since records began in 1880, at 0.54°C (0.97°F) above the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F).

  • The globally-averaged land surface temperature for January 2013 was the 13th warmest January on record, at 0.90°C (1.62°F) above average. The average land surface temperature across the Southern Hemisphere was record warm for the month.

  • The globally-averaged ocean surface temperature was the eighth warmest January on record, at 0.41°C (0.74°F) above average.


Temperature anomalies and percentiles are shown on the gridded maps below. The anomaly map on the left is a product of a merged land surface temperature (Global Historical Climatology Network, GHCN) and sea surface temperature (ERSST.v3b) anomaly analysis developed by Smith et al. (2008). Temperature anomalies for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCDC's Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page. The January 2013 Global State of the Climate report introduces percentile maps that complement the information provided by the anomaly maps. These new maps on the right provide additional information by placing the temperature anomaly observed for a specific place and time period into historical perspective, showing how the most current month, season or year compares with the past.

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In the atmosphere, 500-millibar height pressure anomalies correlate well with temperatures at the Earth's surface. The average position of the upper-level ridges of high pressure and troughs of low pressure—depicted by positive and negative 500-millibar height anomalies on the January 2013 height and anomaly mapJanuary 2013 map—is generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively.


The average global temperature across land and ocean surfaces was 0.54°C (0.97°F) above the 20th century average, marking the ninth warmest January since records began in 1880. The average global land surface temperature was 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the long-term average, ranking as the 13th warmest January on record. Temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere ranged from cooler than average across regions that included much of the western United States, northern Canada, and parts of northern Russia to much warmer than average across southern Greenland, Iceland, Central America, northern South America, and parts of the Middle East. Overall, the Northern Hemisphere land was 0.82°C (1.48°F) above average and ranked as the 21st warmest on record for January. The Southern Hemisphere, on the other hand, was record warm over land for the second month in a row, at 1.10°C (1.98°F) above the 20th century average. Record high monthly temperatures were observed over northeastern Brazil, much of southern Africa, and northern and central Australia. No land areas in the Southern Hemisphere were cooler than average.

Select national information is highlighted below:
  • The January 2013 nationally-averaged monthly maximum temperature was the highest ever recorded for Australia, at 2.28°C (4.10°F) above the 1961–1990 average, besting the previous record set in 1932 by 0.11°C (0.20°F). Regionally, the Northern Territory also had a record high average maximum temperature for January, Queensland second highest, and New South Wales third highest. The country set a new national record for the hottest day on January 7th, with an average maximum temperature of 40.33°C (104.6°F), surpassing the previous record set on December 21st, 1972. The highest temperature for the month was observed on January 12th at Moomba, South Australia: 49.63°C (121.33°F)—Australia's highest observed temperature in the past 15 years. Every state and territory reported above average maximum and minimum temperatures for the month. Additional details on the extreme heat and related impacts can be found in the January 2013 Global Hazards report.

  • The January temperature across Norway as a whole was close to average; however, the north and south of the country experienced contrasting conditions. Southern Norway was up to 4°C (7°F) below average while parts of northern Norway were up to 6°C (11°F) above average. According to Meteorologisk institutt, a similar occurrence was last observed in January 1996.

  • Austria as a whole was 1.2°C (2.2°F) above the 1981–2010 average. Some localized areas were up to 3.3°C (5.9°F) higher than their long-term averages. And just to the east, it was warmer than average across nearly all of Hungary during January. The south and southeast of the country saw the highest monthly-averaged anomalies, with temperatures about 2.5°C (4.5°F) above the 1971–2000 average.

  • Spain was warmer than average during January. More than half the country observed temperatures that were 1°–2°C (1.8°–3.6°F) above the 1971–2000 average.

  • Iceland was also warmer than average. The capital city of Reykjavik was 3.3°C (5.9°F) above average, marking the warmest January since 1987 and the seventh warmest since local records began in 1870. Many other Icelandic cities also observed top 10 warmest Januaries with respect to their periods of record.

  • Varying cooler-than-average and warmer-than-average temperatures across the United Kingdom made the month of January 0.4°C (0.7°F) cooler than the 1981–2010 average overall. Scotland was slightly warmer than average while England and Wales were cooler than average.

  • The nationally-averaged temperature across China was 0.2°C (0.4°F) below average, although there were large anomalous differences across the country. According to China's National Climate Center, temperatures ranged from 2°-4°C (4°–7°F) below average in most of northeast China, eastern Inner Mongolia, central Xinjiang, and parts of western Tibet to 1°–2°C (2°–4°F) above average in parts of northern Xinjiang, middle and western Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, and parts of southern Shanxi.

The January 2013 globally-averaged ocean temperature anomaly of 0.41°C (0.74°F) was the eighth warmest on record for January. For the tenth straight month, ENSO-neutral conditions persisted in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, with sea surface temperatures slightly below average across the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, neutral conditions are favored to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2013. In other regions, it was much warmer than average across parts of the southern Arctic seas, the eastern Indian Ocean, and much of the tropical Atlantic, Indian, and western Pacific Oceans. Associated with a persistent negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, temperatures were cooler than average across the northeastern Pacific Ocean. Images of sea surface temperature conditions are available for all weeks during 2013 from the weekly SST page.

January Anomaly Rank
(out of 134 years)
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Land +0.90 ± 0.16 +1.62 ± 0.29 Warmest 13ᵗʰ 2007 +1.84 +3.31
Coolest 122ⁿᵈ 1893 -1.92 -3.46
Ocean +0.41 ± 0.04 +0.74 ± 0.07 Warmest 8ᵗʰ 1998 +0.56 +1.01
Coolest 127ᵗʰ 1904 -0.47 -0.85
Land and Ocean +0.54 ± 0.08 +0.97 ± 0.14 Warmest 9ᵗʰ 2007 +0.85 +1.53
Coolest 126ᵗʰ 1893 -0.72 -1.30
Ties: 1995
Northern Hemisphere
Land +0.82 ± 0.22 +1.48 ± 0.40 Warmest 21ˢᵗ 2007 +2.28 +4.10
Coolest 114ᵗʰ 1893 -2.50 -4.50
Ocean +0.43 ± 0.08 +0.77 ± 0.14 Warmest 6ᵗʰ 1998, 2010 +0.53 +0.95
Coolest 129ᵗʰ 1904 -0.50 -0.90
Ties: 2003
Land and Ocean +0.58 ± 0.12 +1.04 ± 0.22 Warmest 11ᵗʰ 2007 +1.19 +2.14
Coolest 124ᵗʰ 1893 -1.24 -2.23
Ties: 1998
Southern Hemisphere
Land +1.10 ± 0.15 +1.98 ± 0.27 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2013 +1.10 +1.98
Coolest 134ᵗʰ 1904 -0.84 -1.51
Ocean +0.41 ± 0.04 +0.74 ± 0.07 Warmest 11ᵗʰ 1998 +0.59 +1.06
Coolest 124ᵗʰ 1911 -0.48 -0.86
Ties: 1973, 2009
Land and Ocean +0.51 ± 0.07 +0.92 ± 0.13 Warmest 8ᵗʰ 2010 +0.64 +1.15
Coolest 127ᵗʰ 1904, 1911 -0.49 -0.88
Ties: 2005

Images of sea surface temperature conditions are available for all weeks during 2013 from the weekly SST page.


The maps below represent precipitation percent of normal (left) and precipitation percentiles (right) based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations using a base period of 1961–1990. As is typical, precipitation anomalies during January 2013 varied significantly around the world.

  • Precipitation was above average across Austria during January. Much of Lower Austria, Burgenland, and Vienna observed precipitation that was two to four times higher than their monthly long-term averages.

  • Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan received rare snowfall on January 10th. Up to 8 inches (20 cm) of snow fell in Jerusalem, marking the biggest snowstorm in this area since 1992.

  • It was drier than average across most areas of Fiji during January, with 19 of 26 stations reporting well below- or below-average precipitation for the month. Viwa Island recorded just 56 mm (2.20 inches) of rainfall, its fourth lowest amount on record for January. Only one station reported above-average rainfall.

  • In the southwestern Pacific Ocean, post-tropical cyclone Freda brought heavy rains to New Caledonia on January 2nd, while Tropical Cyclone Dumile impacted the Southern Indian Ocean islands of La Reunion and Mauritius on January 3rd.

  • Madagascar and Mozambique, particularly the south and central regions, received torrential rain on January 23rd as a powerful storm hit the region. South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana were also impacted by severe flooding from the storm.

Additional details on flooding and drought events around the world can also be found on the January 2013 Global Hazards page.

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Peterson, T.C. and R.S. Vose, 1997: An Overview of the Global Historical Climatology Network Database. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., 78, 2837-2849.

Quayle, R.G., T.C. Peterson, A.N. Basist, and C. S. Godfrey, 1999: An operational near-real-time global temperature index. Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 333-335.

Smith, T.M. and R.W. Reynolds, 2005: A global merged land air and sea surface temperature reconstruction based on historical observations (1880-1997), J. Clim., 18, 2021-2036.

Smith et al., 2008, Improvements to NOAA's Historical Merged Land-Ocean Surface Temperature Analysis (1880-2006), J. Climate., 21, 2283-2293.

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for January 2013, published online February 2013, retrieved on July 30, 2016 from