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Note: GHCN-M Data Notice

An omission in processing a correction algorithm led to some small errors on the Global Historical Climatology Network-Monthly dataset (GHCN-M v3.2.0). This led to small errors in the reported land surface temperatures in the October, November, December and Annual U.S. and global climate reports. On February 14, 2013, NCDC fixed this error in its software, included an additional improvement (described below), and implemented both changes as GHCN-M version 3.2.1. With this update to GHCN-M, the Merged Land and Ocean Surface Temperature dataset also is subsequently revised as MLOST version 3.5.3.

The net result of this new version of GHCN-M reveals very small changes in temperature and ranks. The 2012 U.S. temperature is 0.01°F higher than reported in early January, but still remains approximately 1.0°F warmer than the next warmest year, and approximately 3.25°F warmer than the 20th century average. The U.S. annual time series from version 3.2.1 is almost identical to the series from version 3.2.0 and that the 1895-2012 annual temperature trend remains 0.13°F/decade. The trend for certain calendar months changed more than others (discussed below). For the globe, ranks of individual years changed in some instances by a few positions, but global land temperature trends changed no more than 0.01°C/century for any month since 1880.

NCDC uses two correction processes to remove inhomogeneities associated with factors unrelated to climate such as changes in observer practices, instrumentation, and changes in station location and environment that have occurred through time. The first correction for time of observation changes in the United States was inadvertently disabled during late 2012. That algorithm provides for a physically based correction for observing time changes based on station history information. NCDC also routinely runs a .pairwise correction. algorithm that addresses such issues, but in an indirect manner. It successfully corrected for many of the time of observation issues, which minimized the effect of this processing omission.

The version 3.2.1 release also includes the use of updated data to improve quality control and correction processes of other U.S. stations and neighboring stations in Canada and Mexico.

Compared to analyses released in January 2013, the trend for certain calendar months has changed more than others. This effect is related to the seasonal nature of the reintroduced time-of-observation correction. Trends in U.S. winter temperature are higher while trends in summer temperatures are lower. For the globe, ranks of individual years changed in some instances by a few positions, but global temperature trends changed no more than 0.01°C/century for any month since 1880.

More complete information about this issue is available at this supplemental page.

NCDC will not update the static reports from October through December 2012 and the 2012 U.S and Global annual reports, but will use the current dataset (GHCN-M v. 3.2.1 and MLOST v. 3.5.3) for the January 2013 report and other comparisons to previous months and years.

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Global Highlights

  • The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for February 2013 tied with 2003 as the ninth warmest on record, at 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average of 12.1°C (53.9°F).
  • The global land surface temperature was 1.00°C (1.80°F) above the 20th century average of 3.2°C (37.8°F), tying with 2010 as the 11th warmest February on record. For the ocean, the February global sea surface temperature was 0.42°C (0.76°F) above the 20th century average of 15.9°C (60.6°F), making it the eighth warmest February on record.
  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the December–February period was 0.51°C (0.92°F) above the 20th century average of 12.1°C (53.8°F), making it the 12th warmest such period on record.
  • The December–February worldwide land surface temperature was 0.71°C (1.28°F) above the 20th century average, tying with 1992 as the 15th warmest such period on record. The global ocean surface temperature for the same period was 0.43°C (0.77°F) above the 20th century average and was the eighth warmest such period on record.
  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the January–February period (year-to-date) was 0.56°C (1.01°F) above the 20th century average of 12.1°C (53.8°F), tying with 2005 as the ninth warmest such period on record.


Temperature anomalies and percentiles are shown on the gridded maps below. The anomaly map on the left is a product of a merged land surface temperature (Global Historical Climatology Network, GHCN) and sea surface temperature (ERSST.v3b) anomaly analysis developed by Smith et al. (2008). Temperature anomalies for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCDC's Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page. The February 2013 Global State of the Climate report introduces percentile maps that complement the information provided by the anomaly maps. These new maps on the right provide additional information by placing the temperature anomaly observed for a specific place and time period into historical perspective, showing how the most current month, season or year compares with the past.


In the atmosphere, 500-millibar height pressure anomalies correlate well with temperatures at the Earth's surface. The average position of the upper-level ridges of high pressure and troughs of low pressure—depicted by positive and negative 500-millibar height anomalies on the February 2013 height and anomaly mapFebruary 2013 and December 2012 - February 2013 height and anomaly mapDecember 2012–February 2013 maps—is generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively.


The February 2013 globally-averaged temperature across land and ocean surfaces was 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average of 12.1°C (53.8°F), tying with 2003 as the ninth warmest February since records began in 1880 and the warmest February since 2010, a period during which El Niño was present in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.

The global land surface temperature anomaly was 1.00°C (1.80°F) higher than average, tying with 2010 as the 11th warmest on record for the month of February. Following two months of record-warm monthly temperatures, the Southern Hemisphere land ranked as the 7th warmest on record for February, at 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the long-term average. The Northern Hemisphere land ranked as the 13th warmest February (1.04°C / 1.87°F above average), compared with December 2012 and January 2013, which ranked as 70th and 21st warmest, respectively.

It was much warmer than average across much of Mexico, Central America, northern South America, parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. It was cooler than average across the southwestern United States, part of western Europe, Mongolia, and eastern Siberia, where some regions experienced record cold.

Select national information is highlighted below:
  • In the high northern latitudes, Iceland was "exceptionally warm" for February, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office. The capital city of Reykjavic was third warmest for February in its 143-year period of record.

  • Finland was milder than average during February. The Finnish Meteorological Institute reported temperature anomalies that ranged from about +1°C to +2°C (+1.8°F to +2°F) in Enontekiö and far northern Lapland to about +5°C (+9°F) in far eastern Finland.

  • Austria was 1.0°C (1.8°F) below the 1981–2010 average. Areas in the Alps were up to 4.1°C (7.4°F) colder than average.

  • Spain was 0.9°C (1.6°F) below the 1971–2000 average during February. Temperatures were 1– 2°C (1.8°3.6–3.6°F) below average across nearly half of the country. Only a small area in far east central Spain was slightly above average for the month.

  • Following its all-time record-warmest month in January, the February average maximum and minimum temperatures across Australia remained above the 1961–1990 average, though not as extreme as the previous month, ranking as the 16th and 35th warmest for February, respectively.

The February 2013 globally-averaged ocean temperature anomaly of 0.42°C (0.76°F) was the eighth warmest on record for February. ENSO-neutral conditions were present across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, with sea surface temperatures below average across the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, neutral conditions are favored into the Northern Hemisphere summer 2013. In other regions, it was notably warmer than average across the equatorial Atlantic, Indian, and western Pacific Oceans, with record warmth observed in the Indian Ocean near parts of northern and southwestern Australia, the seas of Borneo to New Guinea, and some areas of the Arctic Seas. Associated with a persistent negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, temperatures were cooler than average across the northeastern Pacific Ocean. Images of sea surface temperature conditions are available for all weeks during 2013 from the weekly SST page.

February Ranks and Records
(out of 134 years)
Land+1.00 ± 0.32+1.80 ± 0.58Warmest11th2002+1.69+3.04
Ties: 2010
Ocean+0.42 ± 0.04+0.76 ± 0.07Warmest8th2010+0.57+1.03
Land and Ocean+0.57 ± 0.12+1.03 ± 0.22Warmest9th1998+0.86+1.55
Coolest126th1893, 1905-0.64-1.15
Ties: 2003
Northern Hemisphere
Land+1.04 ± 0.33+1.87 ± 0.59Warmest13th2002+2.26+4.07
Ties: 1934
Ocean+0.38 ± 0.04+0.68 ± 0.07Warmest7th2010+0.56+1.01
Coolest128th1904, 1911-0.47-0.85
Ties: 2003
Land and Ocean+0.63 ± 0.17+1.13 ± 0.31Warmest10th2002+1.10+1.98
Southern Hemisphere
Land+0.90 ± 0.12+1.62 ± 0.22Warmest7th2010+1.19+2.14
Ocean+0.45 ± 0.05+0.81 ± 0.09Warmest10th1998+0.59+1.06
Ties: 2006
Land and Ocean+0.52 ± 0.07+0.94 ± 0.13Warmest8th2010+0.67+1.21
Land and Ocean-0.08 ± 0.93-0.14 ± 1.67Warmest70th1934+3.78+6.80
Seasonal (December–February)

The December 2012–February 2013 average seasonal temperature across the world's land and ocean surfaces was 12th warmest on record for the period, at 0.51°C (0.92°F) above the 20th century average. With ENSO-neutral conditions persisting during all three months in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean, the globally-averaged ocean surface temperature was the eighth warmest for December–February, with record-warm temperatures observed across the Indian Ocean near northwestern and southwestern Australia and some areas of the Arctic Seas.

Globally, the land surface temperature tied with 1992 as the 15th warmest December–February on record. There were differences between the hemispheres, however, with the Southern Hemisphere land observing its second warmest summer on record (0.98°C / 1.76°F above average) and the Northern Hemisphere land observing its 27th warmest winter on record (0.61°C / 1.10°F above average). The majority of Earth's land mass (and human population) is located in the Northern Hemisphere. Across the globe, it was much warmer than average across much of Mexico, Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. It was cooler than average across parts of Siberia, Mongolia, northeastern China, parts of northern Canada, and much of the western United States.

Select national information is highlighted below:
  • Australia observed its record warmest summer (December–February), due in large part to December's fourth warmest maximum temperatures and January's all-time record monthly warmth. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the average maximum summer temperature was 1.44°C (2.59°F) above the 1961–1990 average, easily beating the previous record set in 1982/83 by 0.21°C (0.38°F). All states and territories had above average maximum and minimum temperatures for the period.

  • The average December–February (winter) temperature in Norway was 0.8°C (1.4°F) below the 1961–1990 average. Southern Norway was generally cooler than average, while the north was warmer than average.

  • December–February Ranks and Records
    (out of 134 years)
    Land+0.71 ± 0.23+1.28 ± 0.41Warmest15th2007+1.45+2.61
    Ties: 1992
    Ocean+0.43 ± 0.04+0.77 ± 0.07Warmest8th1998, 2010+0.57+1.03
    Land and Ocean+0.51 ± 0.10+0.92 ± 0.18Warmest12th2007+0.75+1.35
    Northern Hemisphere
    Land+0.61 ± 0.25+1.10 ± 0.45Warmest27th2007+1.71+3.08
    Ties: 1914
    Ocean+0.44 ± 0.06+0.79 ± 0.11Warmest6th2010+0.57+1.03
    Land and Ocean+0.50 ± 0.14+0.90 ± 0.25Warmest13th2007+0.97+1.75
    Southern Hemisphere
    Land+0.98 ± 0.13+1.76 ± 0.23Warmest2nd2010+1.01+1.82
    Ocean+0.44 ± 0.05+0.79 ± 0.09Warmest9th1998+0.60+1.08
    Ties: 1983, 1988
    Land and Ocean+0.53 ± 0.07+0.95 ± 0.13Warmest4th1998+0.65+1.17
    Ties: 2004, 2007
    Land and Ocean+0.15 ± 0.38+0.27 ± 0.68Warmest62nd2007+1.95+3.51

    The most current data may be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

    Year-to-date (January–February)

    The average global temperature across land and ocean surfaces for the year-to-date (January–February) tied with 2005 as the ninth warmest such period on record, at 0.56°C (1.01°F) above the 20th century average. With ENSO-neutral conditions present in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, this anomaly is higher than the same timeframe for 2011 and 2012, which were both La Niña periods, but lower than that of 2010, when El Niño was present.

    January–February Ranks and Records
    (out of 134 years)
    Land+0.94 ± 0.26+1.69 ± 0.47Warmest11th2002+1.54+2.77
    Ocean+0.41 ± 0.04+0.74 ± 0.07Warmest8th1998, 2010+0.56+1.01
    Land and Ocean+0.56 ± 0.10+1.01 ± 0.18Warmest9th2002, 2007+0.75+1.35
    Ties: 2005
    Northern Hemisphere
    Land+0.92 ± 0.28+1.66 ± 0.50Warmest12th2002+2.02+3.64
    Ocean+0.40 ± 0.06+0.72 ± 0.11Warmest7th2010+0.55+0.99
    Land and Ocean+0.60 ± 0.15+1.08 ± 0.27Warmest10th2002+1.01+1.82
    Ties: 2005
    Southern Hemisphere
    Land+1.00 ± 0.13+1.80 ± 0.23Warmest2nd2010+1.09+1.96
    Ocean+0.44 ± 0.05+0.79 ± 0.09Warmest11th1998+0.59+1.06
    Land and Ocean+0.52 ± 0.07+0.94 ± 0.13Warmest7th2010+0.65+1.17
    Ties: 2005
    Land and Ocean+0.22 ± 0.51+0.40 ± 0.92Warmest60th1981+2.79+5.02
    Ties: 1955

    The most current data may be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.


    The maps below represent precipitation percent of normal (left) and precipitation percentiles (right) based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations using a base period of 1961–1990. As is typical, precipitation anomalies during February 2013 varied significantly around the world. As indicated by the February precipitation percentiles map below, record wetness was observed over north central India and part of the southeastern United States. Record dryness occurred over most of Chile, parts of northern Africa, northern Philippines, and part of far western Australia.

    • A series of high pressure systems over New Zealand during February brought dry conditions to most of the country. According to NIWA, some areas received less than 15 percent of normal precipitation for the month, including parts of Northland, Auckland, and the Bay of Plenty. Leigh, a coastal community in north Auckland, reported its driest month of any month since records began in 1966. With a few exceptions, rainfall was less than 50 percent of normal across the country.

    • On average, Australia received rainfall that was 78 percent of average. Some coastal regions, however received higher than average rainfall due to various storm systems. Slow-moving Tropical Cyclone Rusty brought heavy rain to some areas in Western Australia; monthly rainfall in these regions was in the highest 10 percent for February. Elsewhere, a slow-moving low pressure system brought heavy rain and flooding to southeast Queensland and some regions to the south.

    • According to media reports, heavy rain fell over northern Pakistan at the beginning of February. In some areas, average February rainfall for the month fell in just three days. Pakistan typically experiences a cool, dry winter from December through February.

  • Australia as a whole observed 85 percent of average rainfall during December–February (austral summer). With the exception of Western Australia, all states and territories observed below-average precipitation. Victoria had its lowest summer rainfall since 1984/85 while South Australia had its lowest since 1985/86.

Additional details on flooding and drought events around the world can also be found on the February 2013 Global Hazards page.


Peterson, T.C. and R.S. Vose, 1997: An Overview of the Global Historical Climatology Network Database. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., 78, 2837-2849.

Quayle, R.G., T.C. Peterson, A.N. Basist, and C. S. Godfrey, 1999: An operational near-real-time global temperature index. Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 333-335.

Smith, T.M. and R.W. Reynolds, 2005: A global merged land air and sea surface temperature reconstruction based on historical observations (1880-1997), J. Clim., 18, 2021-2036.

Smith et al., 2008, Improvements to NOAA's Historical Merged Land-Ocean Surface Temperature Analysis (1880-2006), J. Climate., 21, 2283-2293.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Monthly Global Climate Report for February 2013, published online March 2013, retrieved on June 15, 2024 from