Global Climate Report - January 2020
Mean Monthly Temperature Records Across the Globe

« Global Climate Report - January 2020

Mean Monthly Temperature Records Across the Globe


The mean monthly temperature records product provides historical perspectives on the occurrences of warm or cold mean monthly temperatures across the globe from the gridded (5° by 5°) NOAAGlobalTemp. On a monthly basis, the percentage area of the globe experiencing record warm or record cold conditions is reported as a time series for the month from 1951 to the present, complementing the percentile maps. In addition, the ratio of warm-to-cold records is plotted as a time series. For example, a ratio value of 2 indicates that the global area experiencing record warm mean monthly temperatures over the most recent month was 2 times larger than the global area experiencing record cold conditions. Time series of these ratios computed from seasonal (December–February, March–May, June–August, September–November) or annual (January–December) aggregations of monthly mean temperature records will also be produced.


Only grid cells that are completely free of missing values from 1951-present are utilized in the analysis, generally limiting our domain to 45°S to 75°N. For each retained grid cell, the warmest and coldest mean monthly temperatures in the 1951-present period of record are identified for each month. These monthly records are expressed as percent areas aggregated over 3 spatial domains: global land-only areas, global ocean-only areas, and the combined global land and ocean. The spatial aggregation accounts for differences in grid cell size with latitude (i.e., cosine weighting) as well as the fraction of land and ocean areas within coastal grid cells. Monthly ratios are computed by dividing the areal extents experiencing warm records with the areal extents experiencing cold records. For seasonal and annual aggregations, the warm and cold record areal extents are summed separately before dividing the totals.

  • Ratio values between 0.8 (five-to-four) and 1.25 (four-to-five) are shown in gray.
  • Red circles indicate values above 1.25.
  • Blue circles indicate values below 0.8.
  • Dark red (dark blue) values represent one of two things:
    • A ratio value that is greater than 50 (less than 0.02)
    • An observation in which the warm (cold) record area is non-zero and the cold (warm) record area is zero.
  • In rare cases, the warm and cold record areas are both zero, in which case the value would be shown as a dark gray circle over unity (i.e., a value of 1).

January 2020 Global Land and Ocean

With 7.62% of the world's land and ocean surfaces having a record high January temperature, January 2020 had the second highest percentage of record warm January temperatures across the globe since 1951. During January 2020, no land or ocean areas had a record low January temperature. January 2016 had the highest percentage of record warm temperatures at 16.04%. The five highest record warm percentages for the month of January have occurred since 2011. Compared to all months, January 2020 tied with July 2010 as the 28th highest percentage of the globe with record warm temperatures in the 829-monthly record. January 2020 marked the ninth consecutive January in which less than 1% of the globe had record cold January temperatures. January 2011 had 1.62% of the globe with record cold January temperatures.

Record warm January temperatures across the global land encompassed 6.72% of the global land surface. This was the fourth highest on record, behind January of 2016 (13.68%), 2007 (10.20%), and 2006 (7.06%). However, no land area had a record cold temperature during January 2020.

About 8.08% of the global ocean surfaces had a record warm temperature during January 2020. This was the second highest percentage for record warm January ocean temperature in the 70-year record. Only January 2016 had a higher percentage at 17.28%. However, no ocean area had a record cold January temperature in 2020.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Climate Report for January 2020, published online February 2020, retrieved on February 29, 2020 from