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Earth just had its hottest January in recorded history

Image: Japan's Lack Of Snow Hits Ski Season
A woman and child remove their snowboards next to patches of grass at a ski resort that has had to close a number of slopes because of a lack of snow, on Jan. 30, 2020 in Minamiuonuma, Japan. Copyright Carl Court Getty Images file
Copyright Carl Court Getty Images file
By Denise Chow with NBC News Tech and Science News
Published on
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The record highlights a worrisome trend as the planet continues to warm at an accelerated pace.

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The planet experienced the hottest January in recorded history last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

January 2020 was the 44th consecutive January, and the 421st consecutive month, with temperatures above the 20th century average, according to the agency. The new milestone is just the latest in a string of climate records that have been broken in recent years.

The average temperature across land and ocean surfaces in January 2020 was 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit (1.13 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average — the highest in NOAA's 141 years of climate records.

The record highlights a worrisome trend as the planet continues to warm at an accelerated pace. The four warmest Januaries on record have occurred since 2016, and the 10 warmest Januaries have all occurred since 2002, according to NOAA.

Scientists at the National Centers for Environmental Information also projected that, based on statistical analyses, 2020 is likely to rank among the five warmest years on record.

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