January 2022 was Earth’s sixth-warmest January since global record-keeping began in 1880, 0.89 degree Celsius (1.60°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, NCEI, reported February 14. NASA  rated January 2022 as the fifth-warmest January on record, 1.20 degrees Celsius (2.16°F) above the 1880-1920 period, which is its best estimate for when preindustrial temperatures occurred. January 2022 was the sixth-warmest January on record according to the Japan Meteorological Agency and the European Copernicus Climate Change Service. Minor differences in the agencies’ rankings can result from the different ways they treat data-sparse regions such as the Arctic.

Notably, last month was the warmest January on record to occur during a La Niña event. Global air temperature tends to cool slightly during La Niña and warm slightly during El Niño, on top of the longer-term warming caused by human-produced greenhouse gases.

Land areas had their sixth-warmest January on record in 2022, with global ocean temperatures the fifth warmest on record, according to NOAA. South America had its second-warmest January on record; Asia, its fourth warmest; Oceania, its seventh warmest; and Europe, its 15th warmest. The contiguous U.S. experienced near-average temperatures in January; the only state with a top-ten warmest or coldest January was California, which had its ninth-warmest January since records began in 1895.

Satellite-measured January temperatures of the lower atmosphere were the 17th warmest or 13th warmest in the 44-year-long record, according to the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and Remote Sensing Solutions, respectively.

At the time of this writing, insurance broker Aon had not yet released their disaster report for January; a summary of the report’s highlights will be added when it is released.

Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for January 2022, the sixth-warmest January for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Record-warm January temperatures were observed across a large area of central South America and in small areas across the Atlantic, Indian, western Pacific oceans, and Asia. No areas experienced record cold. (Image credit: NOAA/NCEI)

La Niña weakens but persists

La Niña conditions weakened during January, but are expected to persist through the Northern Hemisphere spring (77% chance during March-May) and then transition to neutral conditions (56% chance during May-July), NOAA reported in its February monthly discussion of the state of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, or ENSO.

Over the past month, sea surface temperatures in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W) were about 0.7 degree Celsius below average. The range for “weak” La Niña conditions is 0.5-1.0 degree Celsius below average; the range for “moderate” La Niña conditions is 1.0-1.5 degrees Celsius below average.

Figure 2. Departure of sea surface temperature from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Temperatures have ranged from 0.5-0.9 degree Celsius below average since mid-January. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

NOAA’s and Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society forecast for the peak portion of the Atlantic hurricane season (August-September-October) is for a 35% chance of La Niña, 48% chance of ENSO-neutral, and a 17% chance of El Niño. Atlantic hurricane seasons during El Niño events tend to be quiet, because of increased vertical wind shear over the Atlantic. With the current forecast calling for only a small chance of an El Niño, a seventh consecutive active Atlantic hurricane season likely will occur in 2022.

The impact of the current La Niña event may be boosted by an intensely negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The PDO is an index of sea surface temperatures across the northeast and tropical Pacific Ocean that reflects some of the circulation aspects of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. The PDO can swing sharply from month to month, but usually it leans positive (warm) or negative (cool) for a few years at a time. Nearly every month since 2017 has seen a negative PDO, and January’s value was the second lowest for any January since 1854. When the PDO is negative, La Niña’s impacts are often more pronounced.

Arctic sea ice: 16th-lowest January extent on record

Arctic sea ice extent during January 2022 was the 16th lowest in the 44-year satellite record, and the greatest January extent since 2009, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). While this is good news, sea ice extent has a large natural variability, and it is unlikely that the long-term decline in Arctic sea ice has halted. In addition, winter ice extent is a poor indicator of what the ice extent will be in summer and fall.

Antarctic sea ice extent in January was the second-lowest on record, behind only the record-low extent of 2017.

Notable global heat and cold marks for January 2022

The information below is courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera. Follow him on Twitter: @extremetemps:

– Hottest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 41.7°C (107.1°F) at Gallinas, Mexico, January 1;
– Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -62.4°C (-80.3°F) at Summit, Greenland, January 31;
– Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 50.7°C (123.3°F) at Onslow AP, Australia, January 13;
– Coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -48.5°C (-55.3°F) at Concordia, Antarctica, January 30;
– Highest 2022 average temperature to date (Jan.) in the Southern Hemisphere: 34.3°C (93.7°F) at Marble Bar, Australia; and
– Highest 2022 average temperature to date (Jan.) in the Northern Hemisphere: 30.0°C (86.0°F) at Navrongo, Ghana, and Wajir, Kenya.

Major weather stations in January: 36 all-time heat records, one all-time cold record

Among global stations with a record of at least 40 years, 36 set, not just tied, an all-time heat record in January, and one station set an all-time cold record:

Sombrero Hovy (Paraguay) max. 45.6 °C, January 1: New national record high for Paraguay;
Belgrano II Base (Antarctica) max. 11.4°C, January 7;
Onslow AP (Australia) max. 50.7°C, January 13: Tied national record high for Australia;
Roebourne (Australia) max. 50.5°C, January 13;
Karratha (Australia) max. 48.4°C, January 13;
Bage (Brazil) max. 41.7°C, January 13;
Santiago (Brazil) max. 39.9°C, January 13;
Rio Colorado (Argentina) max. 43.4°C, January 13;
Salto (Uruguay) max. 42.5°C, January 13;
Florida (Uruguay) max. 44.0°C, January 14: Tied national record high for Uruguay;
Carrasco (Uruguay) max. 41.0°C, January 14;
Durazno (Uruguay) max. 42.4°C, January 14;
Colonia (Uruguay) max. 40.1°C, January 14;
Tacuarembo (Uruguay) max. 41.4°C, January 14;
Punta Indio (Argentina) max. 43.1°C, January 14;
La Plata (Argentina) max. 41.0°C, January 14;
Mar de Plata (Argentina) max. 42.4°C, January 14;
Tandil (Argentina) max. 40.7°C, January 14;
Benito Juarez (Argentina) max. 41.7°C, January 14;
Villa Gesell (Argentina) max. 42.3°C, January 14;
Moron (Argentina) max. 42.6°C, January 14;
Rio Pardo (Brazil) max. 40.8°C, January 16;
Santa Rosa (Brazil) max. 42.0°C, January 18;
Tulear (Madagascar) max. 42.3°C, January 23;
San Pedro (Paraguay) max. 42.0°C, January 23;
Villarica (Paraguay) max. 42.0°C, January 24;
Coronel Oviedo (Paraguay) max. 41.5°C, January 24;
San Estanislao (Paraguay) max. 42.4°C, January 24;
Quyquyhat (Paraguay) max. 42.0°C, January 24;
San Juan Bautista (Paraguay) max. 42.5°C, January 24;
Posadas (Argentina) max. 42.5°C, January 24;
Iguzu (Argentina) max. 40.6°C, January 24;
Ituzaingo (Argentina) max. 43.0°C, January 24;
Cruz Alta (Brazil) max. 39.2°C, January 24;
Kosanica (Montenegro) min. -33.4°C, January 25: New national record low for Montenegro;
Lagos (Nigeria) max. 38.0°C, January 27; and
Gite de Bellecombe (Reunion Island, France) max. 25.4°C, January 30.

Three all-time national/territorial heat records set or tied in 2022

As of January 31, 2022, three nations or territories had set or tied an all-time reliably-measured national heat record:

Paraguay:  45.6°C (114.1°F) at Sombrero Hovy, January 1;
Australia:  50.7°C (123.3°F) at Onslow AP, January 13 (tie); and
Uruguay:  44.0°C (111.2°F) at Florida, January 14 (tie).

Two all-time national/territorial cold records set or tied in 2022

As of January 31, 2022, two nations or territories had set or tied an all-time national cold record (the record for Myanmar occurred at a station with a relatively short period of record, and thus does not appear in the station records list above):

Montenegro: -33.4°C (-28.1°F) at Kosanica, January 25; and
Myanmar: -6.0°C (-21.2°F) at Hakha, January 29.

Eleven monthly national/territorial heat records beaten or tied as of January 31

In addition to the three all-time national/territorial records listed above, 11 nations or territories have set monthly all-time heat records in 2022, for a total of 14 monthly all-time records:

– January (11): Mexico, USA, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Comoros, Mayotte, Maldives, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Montenegro

No additional all-time monthly cold records have been set so far in 2022.

Hemispherical and continental temperature records in 2022

– Highest temperature ever recorded in January in North America: 41.7°C (107.1°F) at Gallinas, Mexico, January 1;

– Highest temperature ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere (tie) and world record for highest temperature ever recorded in January: 50.7°C (123.3°F) at Onslow AP, Australia, January 13; and

– Highest minimum temperature ever recorded in South America: 32.2°C (90.0°F) at Pampa del Infierno, Argentina, January 17.

Bob Henson contributed to this post.

Editor’s note: this post was modified on Feb. 15 to add the monthly heat record for Montenegro.

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Jeff Masters

Jeff Masters, Ph.D., worked as a hurricane scientist with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. After a near-fatal flight into category 5 Hurricane Hugo, he left the Hurricane Hunters to pursue a...