Global Climate Report - December 2002

Global Highlights:

  • Global average combined land and sea surface temperature was the fifth warmest for December 2002
  • Temperatures were much above average throughout most of North America, with below average temperatures across much of Asia
  • Precipitation during December was above average across the southeast U.S., southern Europe and eastern China, with drier than average conditions over Scandinavia, Indonesia and the eastern half of Australia

Contents of this Section:

This is a break in the document The data presented in this report are preliminary. Ranks and anomalies may change as more complete data are received and processed. The most current data may be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page. This is a break in the document

Top of Page Introduction

The December 2002 mean temperature was above the 1988-2002 average across much of North America, northwestern Africa, southwestern Europe, India and southeast Asia as shown in the adjacent map of blended satellite and in situ data. Cooler than average temperatures were noted over a large area of Asia including most of Russia and eastern Europe, as well as much of Argentina. The mean position of upper level ridges and troughs of low pressure depicted by positive and negative 500 millibar height anomalies), are generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively. Warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures were observed throughout the tropical Pacific, the signature of El Niño conditions.
global blended temperature in December 2002
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Global Temperature Anomalies in December 2002
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December temperature anomalies calculated from the Global Historical Climatology Network data set of land surface stations using a 1961-1990 base period show above average temperatures throughout Canada, Alaska and much of the northern United States, where monthly temperatures were 4-6°C (7.2-10.8°F) above the mean. Notable cool anomalies were present throughout much of Asia, where monthly temperatures were up to 4-6°C (7.2-10.8°F) below average.
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Top of Page Temperature

  • For December 2002, the global average land and ocean surface temperature was 0.42°C (0.76°F) above the 1880-2001 average, ranking as the fifth warmest December in the period of record
  • The warmest December occurred in 1997, with an anomaly of +0.60°C (+1.08°F)
  • Globally averaged ocean temperatures were third warmest on record, or 0.46°C (0.83°F) above the long-term mean
Global Temp Anomalies in December 2002
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  • Serial monthly global surface temperature departures with respect to a 1971-2000 mean are shown in the figure to the right
  • The recent return to record or near record temperature departures is evident, and globally averaged surface temperatures (land and ocean) have been warmer than the 1971-2000 average for the last 80 consecutive months
Global Temperature Timeseries
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Top of Page Precipitation

  • During December 2002, much above average precipitation fell across the U.S. West Coast and Southeast, southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, as well as eastern China, Korea and southern Japan
  • Below average precipitation was observed across central Europe into Scandinavia, much of Indonesia and the eastern half of Australia
  • Additional regional analysis can be found on the Global Hazards page
Global Precip Anomalies in September-December 2002 larger image

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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.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Climate Report for December 2002, published online January 2003, retrieved on January 17, 2018 from