The Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extent were the smallest on record for January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday.
The Arctic sea ice was 487,000 square miles smaller than the 1981-2010 average, said Deke Arndt, chief of climate monitoring for NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information. He said the sea ice extent for the Antarctic was 462,000 square miles smaller than the 1981-2010 average.
NOAA records date back 38 years.
He said the trend of declining ice coverage for the Arctic has shown a consistent downward trend since about the year 2000. The trend for the Antarctic is “not so clear” as the January ice levels there increased between 2012 and 2015.
He also reported that the snow coverage over the Northern Hemisphere in January was 890,000 square miles above the average of the last 51 Januaries.
Arndt said globally, January temperatures were 1.58 degrees above 20th century averages. He said only the 2016 and 2007 January world temperatures were warmer. He said the land temperature in January was 2.77 degrees warmer than normal, while the sea temperature was 1.17 degrees warmer than average.
Arndt also reported that temperatures in the contiguous United States was 3.5 degrees warmer than average – the18th warmest January on record. He noted that the western United States saw especially warmer weather, although no state records were broken.
Precipitation amounts were 0.77 inches above normal, which made it the ninth wettest January on record in the 123 years that such records have been kept. He said the majority of the nation was wetter than average, with New Mexico recording its second wettest January ever. Both Alabama and Colorado recorded their third wettest Januaries on record.
NOAA also reported that drought conditions in most of the United States, especially in California, had greatly eased.
The information was reported during NOAA's monthly webcast.