NASA: After Warmest Year on Record, Southern Hemisphere Starts 2010 With Record-Shattering January

NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) released data today (17 February 2010) showing that surface  temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere in January 2010 were 0.62 degrees Centigrade above the 1951-1980 mean, far exceeding the 0.47oC anomaly recorded in January 2007 -- which until now was the warmest January on record.  The data covers land-surface air temperatures and sea-surface water temperatures combined.

Similarly, NASA data shows that Southern Hemisphere land-surface air temperatures alone (excluding sea-surface temperatures) were at a record high in January 2010: 0.77oC above the mean.  The previous January record, set in 2005, was 0.63oC above the mean. 

The record temperatures come after 2009 broke the annual record for the hemisphere (see Southern Hemisphere in 2009 Saw Warmest Year on Record,  WWF Climate Blog, 15 January 2010).

In addition, the NASA data shows:

  • Global land-surface air temperatures and sea-surface water temperatures combined (0.71oC above the mean) were tied in second place (with January 2002), as January 2007 remained the warmest (0.87oC above the mean)
  • Global land-surface air temperatures alone in January 2010 (0.92oC above the mean) were the second warmest on record, behind January 2007 (1.08oC above the mean)
  • Northern Hemisphere land-surface air temperatures and sea-surface water temperatures combined (0.80oC above the mean), were the 5th warmest on record in January 2010.
  • Northern Hemisphere land-surface air temperatures alone (1.08oC above the mean), were the 5th warmest on record in January 2010.

The January data is broadly consistent with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) surface temperature data released last week, and both datasets show clear long term trends of increasing January temperatures in the southern hemisphere, the northern hemisphere and globally.

Data Should be No Surprise to Australia

That temperatures were at record breaking highs for the Southern Hemisphere should come as no surprise to Australians.  According to NOAA's State of the Climate, Global Hazards, January 2010:

"While much of the Northern Hemisphere was experiencing anomalously cool temperatures, parts of Australia had record warmth. On January 11th, the daily minimum temperature at Melbourne dropped to only 93 °F (34 °C), marking the warmest night in the city since 1902. Temperatures during the day reached 108 °F (42 °C) in the states of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia. Tens of thousands of people in and around Melbourne lost power due to the high energy demand of air conditioners. In Victoria, nearly 200 heat related illnesses were reported (Source: The Age). Reports of small brush fires in South Australia incited code red fire warnings. "

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