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January 2016 was the warmest since mankind started recording, US agency says

ENVIRONMENT
By Xinhua | February 20th 2016

WASHINGTON: The past month is the warmest since record keeping began in 1880, which continues a nine-month streak of record high monthly temperatures, according to the latest report released by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces in January was 1.04 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average, the NOAA said in its monthly report published this week.

This figure was the highest for January in the past 136 years, surpassing the previous record of 2007 by 0.16 degree Celsius.

NOAA researchers attributed the heat partly to a strong El Nino that evolved in 2015 and released warmth from the Pacific Ocean.

Separately, the global land surface temperature was 1.56 degrees Celsius above average, the second highest on record for January, behind only 2007.

Record warmth was observed across a swath of northern Siberia where temperatures rose at least five degrees Celsius above the 1981-2010 monthly average, as well as across parts of southeastern Asia, southwestern Asia and the Middle East, most of southern Africa, and areas of Central and South Americas.

For the oceans, the globally-averaged temperature was 0.86 degree Celsius above the 20th century average. This was the highest on record for January, surpassing the previous record of 2010 by 0.25 degree Celsius.

In addition, the average Arctic sea ice extent for January was 410,000 square miles (about 1,061,995 square kilometres), or 7.14 percent, below the 1981-2010 average.

"This was the smallest January extent since records began in 1979 and 35,000 square miles smaller than the previous record of 2011," the NOAA report said.

Antarctic sea ice area during January was 800,000 square miles (2,071,990 square kilometres) below the 1981-2010 average, making it the 17th smallest Antarctic sea ice extent in the 38-year period of record or the smallest since 2011.

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