April was fifth warmest on record globally


Temperatures in April compared to normal. Reds are areas that were warmer than normal, and blues colder. (NOAA)

After the globe’s coolest March since 1999, April heated back up, closing as the 5th warmest on record since records began in 1881 NOAA reported today.

Land temperatures were 2nd warmest on record for April while the oceans were 11th warmest.

Related: State of the Climate, Global Analysis, April 2012

The planet’s temperature was 1.17 degrees (F) above the 20th century average, the 36th consecutive April with warmer than average temperatures. It was the 326th consecutive month with above average global temperatures.

The rebound in global average temperatures is likely linked to the end of La Nina, which is associated with cooler than normal waters in the tropical Pacific. NOAA noted La Nina “dissipated and transitioned to neutral conditions during April as sea surface temperatures continued to warm across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.”

In previous months, La Nina exerted a cooling effect on the globe’s temperature, which - along with a prevailing positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation - may have played a role in a partial recovery of Arctic sea ice extent. April Arctic sea ice extent, while still 1.8 percent below the long-term average, was the highest since 2001.

While Arctic (and Antarctic) ice held its own in April, the relatively mild weather took its toll on snow cover. Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent was much below normal - in fact, 4th smallest in 46 years of records. That’s after it had been near average in March.

Related: Global Snow and Ice, April 2012

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.

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