September 2012 temperatures compared to the 20th century average. Orange and red shades indicate where temperatures were much warmer than average and record warmest. Via NOAA: “In the higher northern latitudes, parts of east central Russia observed record warmth, as did parts of Venezuela, French Guinea, and northern Brazil closer to the tropics. Nearly all of South America was much warmer than average as were western Australia and central to eastern Europe. Far eastern Russia, a few regions in southern Africa, and parts of China were cooler than average.” (NOAA)
It was the 36th straight September and 331st straight month with an above average global temperature.
For the year (January-September), the average global temperature ranks 8th warmest on record. Each of the last 6 months have all ranked among the top 5 warmest months on record.
Here are the month-by-month rankings:
* January: 19th warmest
* February 22nd warmest
* March: 16th warmest
* April: 5th warmest
* May: 2nd warmest
* June: 4th warmest
* July: 4th warmest
* August: 4th warmest
* September: Warmest (tie)
The first 3 months of the year were not as warm as recent months due to a La Nina event associated with cool Pacific ocean temperatures near the equator. As the La Nina has transitioned to neutral or even weak El Nino conditions, the Pacific ocean temperatures have warmed giving the global temperature - relative to average - a boost.
Related: El Nino may fizzle and fall short of hype
Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.