Global Climate Report - August 2020


August 2020 Selected Climate Anomalies and Events Map

Introduction

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 version 5) anomaly analysis. Temperature anomalies for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCEI's Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page. The percentile map on the right provides 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.


Temperature

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 August 2020 and June–August 2020 maps—is generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively.

Monthly Temperature: August 2020

The month of August marks the end of the Northern (Southern) Hemisphere's meteorological summer (winter). August 2020 was characterized by warmer-than-average conditions across much of the globe. The most notable temperature departures from average were observed across Alaska, eastern Canada, the western contiguous U.S., Europe, northern Russia, central South America, Western Australia, eastern Antarctica, and across the North Pacific, the Bering Sea, and the Barents Sea, where temperatures were at least 2.0°C (3.6°F) above average. Cooler-than-average conditions were present across the Far East Russia and across parts of the southern Indian Ocean, and the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

Record-warm August temperatures were observed across parts of the southwestern contiguous U.S., northern South America, Africa, northern Russia, southern Asia, and across the western Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean. Overall, August 2020 had 7.74% of the world's land and ocean surfaces with a record high August temperature. This was the fourth highest percentage for any record warm August temperature across the globe since 1951. However, no land or ocean surface had record cold temperatures.

Averaged as a whole, the August 2020 global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.94°C (1.69°F) above average and the second highest August temperature since global records began in 1880. Only August 2016 was warmer with a temperature departure from average of +0.98°C (+1.76°F). The 10 warmest Augusts have all occurred since 1998; however, the five warmest Augusts have occurred since 2015. August 2020 also marked the 44th consecutive August and the 428th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average.

Global Land and Ocean Temperature Anomalies for August

The global land-only surface temperature for August 2020 was the third highest on record at 1.26°C (2.27°F) above average. Meanwhile, the global-ocean surface temperature tied with 2016 as the second highest in the 141-year record at 0.82°C (1.48°F) above average.

The Northern Hemisphere land and ocean surface temperature for August 2020 was the highest August temperature on record at 1.19°C (2.14°F) above average. This value surpassed the now second highest August temperature set in 2016 by 0.03°C (0.05°F). Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere had its sixth highest August temperature on record.

Regionally, North America had its warmest August on record, with a temperature departure from average of +1.52°C (+2.74°F). This exceeded the previous record set on August 2011 by 0.13°C (0.23°F). Europe and the Caribbean region had their third-warmest August, while South America and Oceania had their fourth warmest August on record.

August Anomaly Rank
(out of 141 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +1.26 ± 0.23 +2.27 ± 0.41 Warmest 3rd 2016 +1.41 +2.54
Coolest 139th 1912 -0.67 -1.21
Ocean +0.82 ± 0.14 +1.48 ± 0.25 Warmest 2nd 2019 +0.84 +1.51
Coolest 140th 1903, 1904, 1908 -0.47 -0.85
Ties: 2016
Land and Ocean +0.94 ± 0.16 +1.69 ± 0.29 Warmest 2nd 2016 +0.98 +1.76
Coolest 140th 1908, 1912 -0.46 -0.83
Northern Hemisphere
Land +1.29 ± 0.27 +2.32 ± 0.49 Warmest 2nd 2016 +1.41 +2.54
Coolest 140th 1884 -0.90 -1.62
Ocean +1.13 ± 0.14 +2.03 ± 0.25 Warmest 2nd 2019 +1.14 +2.05
Coolest 140th 1903 -0.57 -1.03
Land and Ocean +1.19 ± 0.20 +2.14 ± 0.36 Warmest 1st 2020 +1.19 +2.14
Coolest 141st 1912 -0.64 -1.15
Southern Hemisphere
Land +1.18 ± 0.13 +2.12 ± 0.23 Warmest 5th 2016 +1.41 +2.54
Coolest 137th 1891 -0.92 -1.66
Ocean +0.57 ± 0.16 +1.03 ± 0.29 Warmest 6th 2016 +0.67 +1.21
Coolest 136th 1911 -0.42 -0.76
Land and Ocean +0.67 ± 0.14 +1.21 ± 0.25 Warmest 6th 2016 +0.79 +1.42
Coolest 136th 1911 -0.44 -0.79

The most current data can be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

Select national information is highlighted below. Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data:

  • The contiguous U.S had a national temperature that was 1.4°C (2.6°F) above average and the third warmest August in the national's 126-year record. A maximum temperature of 130°F was observed on Death Valley, California on August 16, 2020. If verified, this would be the warmest August temperature on record and the third warmest temperature for any month across the U.S.
  • Spain's August 2020 temperature of 24.7°C (76.5°F) was 0.8°C (1.4°F) above the 1981–2010 average, resulting in the 11th warmest August since national records began in 1965.
  • France had its third warmest August since national records began in 1900. Only Augusts of 2003 and 1997 were warmer.
  • The United Kingdom had its third highest August minimum temperature since national records began in 1884 at 1.0°C (1.8°F) above the 1981–2010 average. Regionally, England and Wales had their second highest August minimum temperature on record.
  • De Bilt, Netherlands had its second warmest August on record, with a temperature of 20.4°C (68.7°F) or 2.9°C (5.2°F) above average. Only August 1997 was warmer.
  • According to the World Meteorological Organization, the city of Hamamatsu in Japan recorded a maximum temperature of 41.1°C (106.0°F) on 17 August 2020. This temperature tied Japan's national record, which was set on July 2018 in the city of Kumagaya.
  • The August 2020 national mean temperature for Australia was 1.38°C (2.48°F) above the 1961–1990 average and the sixth highest in the nation's 111-year record. Regionally, the Northern Territory had its highest August temperature since 2009 and the seventh highest on record, while Western Australia had its fourth highest August temperature on record.
  • Temperatures were above average across much of New Zealand during August 2020. New Zealand's August 2020 national temperature of 10.1°C (50.2°F) was 1.2°C (2.2°F) above average and the fourth highest since national records began in 1909.

Seasonal Temperature: June–August 2020

The June–August period is defined as the Northern Hemisphere's meteorological summer and the Southern Hemisphere's meteorological winter.

Warmer-than-average conditions were present across much of the globe during the three-month period of June–August 2020. The most notable warm temperature departures from average were present across the southwestern and northeastern contiguous U.S., eastern Canada, northern Russia, and the North Pacific Ocean, where temperatures were at least 2.0°C (3.6°F) above average. Meanwhile, cooler-than-average conditions were limited to parts of the North Atlantic and the eastern tropical Pacific oceans.

Record-warm temperatures during the three-month season were observed across parts of southern and northern Asia, North and South America, as well as the Caribbean Sea, northern Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean. However, no land or ocean surfaces had a record-cold August temperature.

Global Land and Ocean Temperature Anomalies for June-August

The Northern Hemisphere had its warmest summer on record at 1.17°C (2.11°F) above average, surpassing the now second-warmest such period set in 2016 and again in 2019. The five warmest summers for the Northern Hemisphere have occurred since 2015. Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere winter temperature of 0.67°C (1.21°F) above average tied with 1998 as the fifth warmest winter in the 141-year record.

During the three-month period of June–August 2020, the Caribbean region had its second-warmest such period on record, while North America and South America had their third-warmest June–August since regional records began in 1910. Europe had its fourth warmest June–August, while Africa, Asia, and Oceania had their sixth warmest such period on record.

Select national information is highlighted below. Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data:

  • Hong Kong had its warmest summer on record, with a mean temperature of 29.6°C (85.3°F).
  • June–August 2020 was New Zealand's warmest winter since national records began in 1909, with a national temperature that was 1.1°C (2.0°F) above the 1981–2010 average. This value was 0.06°C (0.11°F) higher than the previous record set in 2013.
  • Australia had its sixth warmest winter on record, with a national temperature departure from average at 1.15°C (2.07°F) above average. The Western Australia had its warmest winter on record, surpassing the previous record set in 1996 by 0.18°C (0.32°F).
June–August Anomaly Rank
(out of 141 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +1.26 ± 0.23 +2.27 ± 0.41 Warmest 2nd 2016 +1.29 +2.32
Coolest 140th 1884 -0.62 -1.12
Ocean +0.80 ± 0.15 +1.44 ± 0.27 Warmest 3rd 2019 +0.83 +1.49
Coolest 139th 1904, 1911 -0.48 -0.86
Land and Ocean +0.92 ± 0.17 +1.66 ± 0.31 Warmest 3rd 2016 +0.95 +1.71
Coolest 139th 1904, 1911 -0.46 -0.83
Northern Hemisphere
Land +1.30 ± 0.23 +2.34 ± 0.41 Warmest 2nd 2016 +1.37 +2.47
Coolest 140th 1884 -0.69 -1.24
Ties: 2012
Ocean +1.09 ± 0.14 +1.96 ± 0.25 Warmest 1st 2020 +1.09 +1.96
Coolest 141st 1904 -0.55 -0.99
Land and Ocean +1.17 ± 0.19 +2.11 ± 0.34 Warmest 1st 2020 +1.17 +2.11
Coolest 141st 1904 -0.51 -0.92
Southern Hemisphere
Land +1.17 ± 0.13 +2.11 ± 0.23 Warmest 4th 2015 +1.29 +2.32
Coolest 138th 1891 -0.86 -1.55
Ocean +0.57 ± 0.16 +1.03 ± 0.29 Warmest 7th 2016 +0.69 +1.24
Coolest 135th 1911 -0.45 -0.81
Ties: 2009
Land and Ocean +0.67 ± 0.15 +1.21 ± 0.27 Warmest 5th 2016 +0.76 +1.37
Coolest 137th 1911 -0.49 -0.88
Ties: 1998

Year-to-date Temperature: January–August 2020

The global land and ocean surface temperature for the first eight months of the year was 1.03°C (1.85°F) above average and the second highest such period in the 141-year record. Only January–August of 2016 is warmer by 0.05°C (0.09°F). According to NCEI's global annual temperature ranking outlook, it is virtually certain that 2020 will end among the five warmest years.

Global Land and Ocean Temperature Anomalies for January-August

Warmer-than-average temperatures were present across much of the globe during January–August 2020, with the most notable warm temperatures across much of northern Asia, where temperatures were at least 3.0°C (5.4°F) above average. Meanwhile, cooler-than-average conditions were limited to Alaska, western Canada, northern India and across the southern oceans. Record warm January–August temperatures were present across much of northern Asia and across parts of southeastern China, Europe, northern Africa, northern South America, Central America, as well as the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans.

Regionally, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean region had their warmest January–August period on record. Europe's year-to-date temperature was 2.08°C (3.74°F) above average, surpassing the previous record set in 2018 by 0.15°C (0.27°F). Asia's January–August 2020 temperature departure of +2.38°C (+4.28°F), which is 0.36°C (0.65°F) higher than the now second highest January–August Asia temperature set in 2016. The Caribbean region's year-to-date temperature departure of 1.05°C (1.89°F) tied with 2016 as the warmest such period in the 111-year record. South America had a January–August temperature that ranked as the second highest on record, trailing behind 2015. Meanwhile, North America, Africa, and Oceania had a top 10 warm January–August on record.

According to the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere, Portugal had its warmest January–August since national records began in 1931. The national temperature during the first eight months of the year was 1.40°C (2.52°F) above average, surpassing the previous record set in 2017 by 0.03° (0.05°F).

January–August Anomaly Rank
(out of 141 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +1.67 ± 0.18 +3.01 ± 0.32 Warmest 2nd 2016 +1.73 +3.11
Coolest 140th 1885 -0.74 -1.33
Ocean +0.79 ± 0.18 +1.42 ± 0.32 Warmest 2nd 2016 +0.83 +1.49
Coolest 140th 1911 -0.50 -0.90
Land and Ocean +1.03 ± 0.18 +1.85 ± 0.32 Warmest 2nd 2016 +1.08 +1.94
Coolest 140th 1904, 1911 -0.52 -0.94
Northern Hemisphere
Land +1.86 ± 0.20 +3.35 ± 0.36 Warmest 2nd 2016 +1.91 +3.44
Coolest 140th 1883, 1884 -0.81 -1.46
Ocean +0.99 ± 0.17 +1.78 ± 0.31 Warmest 1st 2020 +0.99 +1.78
Coolest 141st 1904 -0.53 -0.95
Land and Ocean +1.32 ± 0.19 +2.38 ± 0.34 Warmest 1st 2016, 2020 +1.32 +2.38
Coolest 141st 1904 -0.56 -1.01
Ties: 2016
Southern Hemisphere
Land +1.17 ± 0.15 +2.11 ± 0.27 Warmest 3rd 2019 +1.30 +2.34
Coolest 139th 1917 -0.82 -1.48
Ocean +0.65 ± 0.18 +1.17 ± 0.32 Warmest 4th 2016 +0.75 +1.35
Coolest 138th 1911 -0.49 -0.88
Land and Ocean +0.74 ± 0.17 +1.33 ± 0.31 Warmest 3rd 2016 +0.83 +1.49
Coolest 139th 1911 -0.52 -0.94
Ties: 2017

Precipitation

August Precipitation

The maps shown above represent precipitation percent of normal (left, using a base period of 1961–1990) and precipitation percentiles (right, using the period of record) based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations. As is typical, precipitation anomalies during August 2020 varied significantly around the world. August 2020 precipitation was generally drier than normal across parts of the the western half of the contiguous U.S., western Alaska, southern South America, northern Brazil, eastern Europe, Scandinavia, northern Russia, western and southeastern China, Japan, and northeastern Australia. Wetter-than-average conditions were present across parts of Alaska's panhandle, the eastern contiguous U.S., the United Kingdom, central Europe, southern and eastern Asia, and southern Australia.

June–August Precipitation

June–August 2020 precipitation was generally drier than normal across parts of the southwestern and southern contiguous U.S., western Alaska, southern Spain, western and eastern parts of Russia, Brazil, northern Argentina, and across much of Australia. Wetter-than-average conditions were present across parts of the Alaskan panhandle, the eastern contiguous U.S., central and northern Europe, eastern Asia, and southern Argentina.

Select national information is highlighted below. (Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data):

  • Australia had a drier-than-average winter at 31% below average. This was Australia's 16th driest winter on record. Regionally, the Northern Territory had the largest precipitation deficit at 77% below average. Western Australia had its driest winter since 2006 and the eighth driest on record. Most regions had below average conditions, with the exception of New South Wales.

Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP)

The following analysis is based upon the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) Interim Climate Data Record. It is provided courtesy of the GPCP Principal Investigator team at the University of Maryland.

The Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) monthly data set is a long-term (1979-present) analysis (Adler et al., 2018) using a combination of satellite and gauge information. An interim GPCP analysis completed within ~10 days of the end of the month allows its use in climate monitoring.

The last month of Northern Hemisphere summer for 2020 shows a very active Asian monsoon along with tropical cyclone action in both the Atlantic and Pacific basins and strong anomalies, especially over northern continents. The map for August (Fig. 1, top panel) shows very distinct ITCZ features over the eastern Pacific and across the Atlantic, with midlatitude rainfall features extending east from the Northern Hemisphere continents. In the Southern Hemisphere the sub-tropic dry zones have seasonally shifted to cover southern Africa, Australia and central South America.

The precipitation anomaly map for August (Fig. 1, middle panel) has the Asian summer monsoon again a focus of intense features. In South Asia a pattern of strong positive anomalies is strung across the region from Pakistan, through central India and Bangladesh and across northern Indochina. Floods and landslides on regional and local scales were the result of these strong monthly anomalies. Further to the north in China the heavy rain and large-scale flooding of earlier in the summer shifted to be centered in the northeast part of the country. North Korea also experienced heavy rain and flooding during the month.

Across the tropical Pacific Ocean a complicated anomaly pattern is reflective partially of a neutral to weak La Niña SST pattern and tropical cyclone activity. Over most of the Maritime Continent positive anomalies exist, somewhat typical of a La Nina-type episode with a northward extension east of the Philippines related to tropical cyclone tracks that affected the Korean peninsula late in the month. Just further to the east strong dry zones exist at the Equator and south of Japan. Further to the east the ITCZ in the central and eastern Pacific is narrow and strong with negative anomalies to the north and south. The positive anomaly up against Central America and extending northwestward is reflective of tropical cyclone activity there this month.

The ITCZ is broad across Africa and easterly waves moving out into the Atlantic have flourished and created a positive anomaly feature from the African coast across the Atlantic into the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. This feature indicates an active tropical cyclone month in the region associated with warm SSTs in the Atlantic and the weak La Nina in the Pacific. Over Africa itself the positive anomaly was associated with floods across the continent in western Africa, Somalia and even extending to Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Over North America, the southeast had above average rainfall with brushes with tropical systems and the late-in-the-month arrival of Hurricane Laura into Louisiana and across the southeast and eastern parts of the U.S. The relative wetness continued up the coast to the Canadian Maritime provinces. In the western U.S., however, dryness and drought dominated with a total failure of the North American Monsoon, which often provides some relief at this time of year. The negative rainfall anomaly extends from Central America through Mexico to cover most of the western U.S. and into Canada. The lack of rain and anomalous high temperatures provided the environment for numerous destructive forest fires across the region. From the anomaly map one can see that the dry area over the U.S. is an extension of an even larger area extending across the Pacific. Further to the north, northwest Canada and parts of Alaska were above normal, as an extension of the positive anomaly of the mid-latitude storm track across the Pacific. Scandinavia and Siberia are dominated by deficits in precipitation for August.

Figure 2 shows the mean pattern and anomaly map for the three-month period June–August 2020, summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. This season the large majority of precipitation falls in the Northern Hemisphere; almost all the heaviest rain areas are north of the Equator. The Asian monsoon dominates the mean map over land. The anomaly map is dominated by broad areas of precipitation deficit and smaller areas of surplus. The strongest feature is the large positive anomaly covering most of China and extending into southern Japan. This feature is associated with the repeated series of rain events in China during the summer that resulted in one of the worst series of floods in decades there. To the east, over the western Pacific, rainfall deficits dominate and seem to be westward extensions of sub-tropical features. Even further to the east the ITCZ shows as stronger than normal in the eastern Pacific and in the Atlantic. A positive anomaly covers a relative narrow east-west zone across tropical Africa and across the southern portion of the Arabian peninsula. African floods accompanied this feature as did floods in Yemen. The Indian Ocean has positive anomalies, but in both hemispheres the sub-tropics are covered primarily by drier than normal areas, both in the Atlantic and Pacific. Over North America the rainfall deficits continue in the western U.S. and this feature is connected to the larger negative anomaly extending back to the western Pacific.

Background discussion of long-term means, variations and trends of global precipitation can be found in Adler et al. (2017).

References

  • Menne, M. J., C. N. Williams, B.E. Gleason, J. J Rennie, and J. H. Lawrimore, 2018: The Global Historical Climatology Network Monthly Temperature Dataset, Version 4. J. Climate, in press. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0094.1.
  • Huang, B., Peter W. Thorne, et. al, 2017: Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature version 5 (ERSSTv5), Upgrades, validations, and intercomparisons. J. Climate, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0836.1
  • Peterson, T.C. and R.S. Vose, 1997: An Overview of the Global Historical Climatology Network Database. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., 78, 2837-2849.
  • Huang, B., V.F. Banzon, E. Freeman, J. Lawrimore, W. Liu, T.C. Peterson, T.M. Smith, P.W. Thorne, S.D. Woodruff, and H-M. Zhang, 2016: Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature Version 4 (ERSST.v4). Part I: Upgrades and Intercomparisons. J. Climate, 28, 911-930.
  • Adler, R., G. Gu, M. Sapiano, J. Wang, G. Huffman 2017. Global Precipitation: Means, Variations and Trends During the Satellite Era (1979-2014). Surveys in Geophysics 38: 679-699, doi:10.1007/s10712-017-9416-4
  • Adler, R., M. Sapiano, G. Huffman, J. Wang, G. Gu, D. Bolvin, L. Chiu, U. Schneider, A. Becker, E. Nelkin, P. Xie, R. Ferraro, D. Shin, 2018. The Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) Monthly Analysis (New Version 2.3) and a Review of 2017 Global Precipitation. Atmosphere. 9(4), 138; doi:10.3390/atmos9040138

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Climate Report for August 2020, published online September 2020, retrieved on September 19, 2020 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/202008.

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