After achieving its warmest August, September and October on record, the Earth’s temperature stepped back from record-setting levels in November, NOAA reports.  It was the 7th warmest November on record (dating back to 1880), but the planet remains on track to have its warmest year – though just barely.

The average temperature of the oceans remained at record-setting levels in November, extending the streak of record warm seas to six straight months (May-November).  But land areas only ranked 13th warmest. They were held back, in large part, by cooler than normal temperatures over North America (16th coolest on record) where snow cover reached its greatest extent on record (dating back to 1967).

While the global warmth eased in November, NOAA says 2014 is still on track to be the warmest year on record as long as December closes among the top 15 warmest on record.

The chart below shows the warmth in 2014 (green line) compared to all other years on record, back to 1880:

Through November, 2014 is running a shade warmer than 2010, 2005, and 1998 – the three previous warmest years on record.

However, these warmest years (shown above) are only separated by a few hundredths of a degree which is within each year’s margin of measurement error. Thus not surprisingly, different data sets show slightly different rankings.

NASA, in its independent analysis of temperature data, determined that it was the 10th warmest November on record. “Temperatures over the 12 months from December 2013 to November 2014 suggest that calendar 2014 is likely to be the second warmest year – behind 2010,” notes the blog Reporting Climate Science.

Lower atmospheric temperatures measured by weather satellites and analyzed by the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) indicate November temperatures were second warmest on record since 1978. Roy Spencer, a researcher at UAH, writes 2014 isn’t “even close” to ranking warmest in the satellite record, however.  John Christy, who curates the record, says 2014 is likely to rank third warmest.