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In 141 years of record-keeping, there has never been a warmer January

Updated 6:42 PM ET, Thu February 13, 2020

(CNN) - If you felt that January was warmer than usual, you're right.

January 2020 was Earth's hottest start to a year in over a century -- and it's not likely to be the last record of this type, according to a report released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday.

In 141 years of record-keeping from NOAA, there has never been a warmer January.

This agrees with data released by the European climate observing program, Copernicus, released last week.

Temperatures surpassed the previous record set in January 2016 by 0.04 degrees Fahrenheit (0.02 degrees Celsius).

In the 1,681 previous months, only three were more above normal. These three months -- March 2016, February 2016 and December 2015 -- occurred with an El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which acts to temporarily heat the Earth naturally.

But this time, we achieved these temperatures all on our own. With no El Niño anomaly present this year, these temperatures are a product of the ever-increasing global temperature rise that scientists attribute to greenhouse gas-induced warming.

Learn more about the climate crisis

Therefore, we can expect to see the number of record warm months increase in the coming years.

If you're wondering where winter is, it's in Alaska. Alaska, one of the few spots of blue on the global map, is experiencing its coldest winter since 2012.

While you might think this would be a normal occurrence for Alaska, January was actually its first month with below-average temperatures in 22 consecutive months.

The global warmth is not going away.

This above-average trend is likely to push through the rest of the year, too. Even though it's only February, statistical analysis done by NOAA scientists says 2020 is going to be one of the top five warmest years on record for the globe.

This will only continue the trend, however, as the warmest five years on record are all in the past five years.


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