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.v4) anomaly analysis as described in Huang et al. (2016). Temperature anomalies for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCEI's Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page. The percentile map on the right provides 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 September 2016 height and anomaly mapSeptember 2016 and July - September 2016 height and anomaly mapJuly–September 2016 maps—is generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively.


The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for September 2016 was the second highest for September in the 137-year record, 0.04°C (0.07°F) cooler than the record warmth of 2015. A few months after the end of one of the strongest El Niños in at least the past half century, this month effectively snapped the 16-month streak of record warm monthly global temperatures.

The average global temperature across land surfaces was 1.29°C (2.32°F) higher than the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F)—the highest September global land temperature on record, besting the previous record set in 2015 by 0.11°C (0.20°F).

Warmer- to much-warmer-than-average conditions were present across most of the world's land surfaces, with record warmth evident around the Great Lakes region in North America, parts of central and northern Europe, part of north central Russia, a region extending from central Asia southwest to northern Yemen and southern Oman, along with a couple of areas in equatorial Africa, as seen in the Land & Ocean Temperature Percentiles map above. Overall, with continental records dating to 1910, Europe and Asia were both record warm for September, while Africa was second warmest and North America third, according to NCEI's Global Regional analysis. Only western Australia observed below to well-below average temperatures for the month. No land areas experienced record cold temperatures during September 2016.

Select national information is highlighted below. Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data:

  • The mean temperature for Australia for September was close to the 1961–1990 average; however that masks the higher-than-average national minimum temperature (+0.77°C / 1.39°F), lower-than-average national maximum temperature (-0.87°C / -1.57°F), and striking regional differences. Tasmania, for example, observed its sixth highest maximum September temperature on record, while just to the north, South Australia had its ninth lowest such temperature.
  • The average September temperature for Norway was record high for the 117-year national record, at 3.6°C (6.5°F) above the 1961–1990 average, breaking the previous record set in 1999. Temperature departures from average exceeded 5°C (9°F) in the mountainous regions of southern Norway.
  • The September temperature for Germany was 3.5°C (6.3°F) above its 1961–1990 national average, tying with 1947, 1999, and 2006 as the warmest September in the 136-year period of record.
  • France observed its third warmest September since its national records began in 1900, at 2.4°C (4.3°F) above the 1981–2010 average. Some areas near the northern and northeastern borders were as much as 4°C (7°F) warmer than average for the month. Considering the first half of the month only, the average temperature for France was record high, exceeding the previous record of 1949 and 2006 by 0.8°C (1.4°F) for that period.
  • Austria observed a September temperature 2.3°C (4.1°F) higher than its 1981–2010 average, tying with 2006 as the fifth warmest September in the 250-year national record. Some individual stations reported record high monthly temperatures.
  • It was also unusually warm for September in Sweden. Not only did several stations record a new September high mean temperature, ten stations observed a September that was warmer than the preceding August.
  • According to a preliminary report by the Ontario Weather Review, Ontario, Canada, may have had one of its 10 warmest Septembers since records began in 1900. Most of the province had temperatures 2°C (4°F) above average, with areas around Lake Superior to Killarney 3°C (5°F) above average.

For the oceans, the September globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average of 16.2°C (61.1°F), tying with 2014 as the second highest on record for the month, behind only 2015. Including this month, the five highest September global ocean temperatures have all occurred in the past five years.

Most of the world's oceans were warmer- to much-warmer-than-average during September 2016, with record warmth present across parts of the northeastern, southeastern and western Pacific, parts of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the Atlantic near the northeastern U.S. seaboard, and the Indian Ocean waters south of Indonesia. Cooler-than-average conditions were limited to small areas of the mid-North Atlantic, the central equatorial Pacific, the eastern Indian Ocean near southwestern Australia and to the east of Madagascar, and part of the Southern Ocean.

ENSO-neutral conditions prevailed during September 2016, with temperatures on the cool end of the neutral range. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, La Niña is favored to develop (~70 percent chance) during the Northern Hemisphere fall 2016 and slightly favored to persist (~55 percent chance) during winter 2016/17.This forecast focuses on the ocean surface temperatures between 5°N and 5°S latitude and 170°W to 120°W longitude, called the Niño 3.4 region.

September Ranks and Records
(out of 137 years)
Land+1.29 ± 0.23+2.32 ± 0.41Warmest1st2016+1.29+2.32
Ocean+0.74 ± 0.14+1.33 ± 0.25Warmest2nd2015+0.83+1.49
Ties: 2014
Land and Ocean+0.89 ± 0.15+1.60 ± 0.27Warmest2nd2015+0.93+1.67
Northern Hemisphere
Land+1.53 ± 0.19+2.75 ± 0.34Warmest1st2016+1.53+2.75
Ocean+0.91 ± 0.14+1.64 ± 0.25Warmest3rd2015+1.07+1.93
Land and Ocean+1.14 ± 0.15+2.05 ± 0.27Warmest1st2016+1.14+2.05
Southern Hemisphere
Land+0.65 ± 0.14+1.17 ± 0.25Warmest21st2014+1.27+2.29
Ocean+0.61 ± 0.15+1.10 ± 0.27Warmest2nd2015+0.65+1.17
Land and Ocean+0.62 ± 0.15+1.12 ± 0.27Warmest6th2015+0.71+1.28
Ties: 2009
Land and Ocean+1.65 ± 0.18+2.97 ± 0.32Warmest1st2016+1.65+2.97

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

Year-to-date (January–September)

The first nine months of 2016 were characterized by much-warmer-than-average conditions across most of the globe's surface, resulting in the warmest January–September period in the 137-year record, at 0.89°C (1.60°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.5°F). This value exceeded the previous record set in 2015 by 0.13°C (0.23°F).

Much-warmer-than-average conditions engulfed the vast majority of the world's land surfaces during the January–September period, with a globally-averaged land surface temperature 2.84°F (1.58°C) above the 20th century average of 9.0°C (48.1°F), besting the previous record set in 2015 by 0.30°C (0.50°F). Record warmth for this period was notable across Alaska and western Canada, southern Mexico into Central America, much of northern South America, large parts of eastern, south central, and southwestern Africa, central Asia and parts of northern Russia, and the islands of southeastern Asia. According to NCEI's Global Regional analysis, all six continents had at least a top three warm January–September period, with North America and Asia each observing a record high average temperature for January–September since continental records began in 1910. No land areas experienced cooler-than-average conditions during January–September 2016.

The average global sea surface temperature for the year-to-date was the highest for January–September in the 137-year period of record, at 0.78°C (1.40°F) above average, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.08°C (0.14°F). Record warm sea surface temperatures during January–September 2016 were notable across several sections of the eastern and western Pacific, especially in the southern portion, much of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, most of the western Atlantic near the United States and the eastern Atlantic near southern Africa, along with much of the eastern and central Indian Ocean. The only area with record cold and much-below-average temperatures was east of the Drake Passage off the southern tip of South America and a small section the the southern central Pacific.

January–September Ranks and Records
(out of 137 years)
Land+1.58 ± 0.16+2.84 ± 0.29Warmest1st2016+1.58+2.84
Ocean+0.78 ± 0.18+1.40 ± 0.32Warmest1st2016+0.78+1.40
Land and Ocean+0.99 ± 0.17+1.78 ± 0.31Warmest1st2016+0.99+1.78
Northern Hemisphere
Land+1.76 ± 0.17+3.17 ± 0.31Warmest1st2016+1.76+3.17
Coolest137th1884, 1893-0.73-1.31
Ocean+0.88 ± 0.17+1.58 ± 0.31Warmest1st2016+0.88+1.58
Land and Ocean+1.21 ± 0.18+2.18 ± 0.32Warmest1st2016+1.21+2.18
Southern Hemisphere
Land+1.09 ± 0.14+1.96 ± 0.25Warmest1st2016+1.09+1.96
Coolest137th1911, 1917-0.67-1.21
Ocean+0.71 ± 0.18+1.28 ± 0.32Warmest1st2016+0.71+1.28
Land and Ocean+0.77 ± 0.17+1.39 ± 0.31Warmest1st2016+0.77+1.39
Land and Ocean+2.24 ± 0.14+4.03 ± 0.25Warmest1st2016+2.24+4.03

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

Ocean Heat Content

Ocean Heat Content (OHC) is essential for understanding and modeling global climate since > 90% of excess heat in the Earth's system is absorbed by the ocean. Further, expansion due to increased ocean heat contributes to sea level rise. Change in OHC is calculated from the difference of observed temperature profiles from the long-term mean.

July–September 2016 Ocean Heat Content (1022 joules)
Basin0-700 meters | Rank (1955-2022)
Entire BasinNorthern HemisphereSouthern Hemisphere
Source: Basin time series of heat content
July–September 2016 Heat Content 0-700 m
Heat Content 0-700 m

Global OHC for July–September 2016 was lower than for the same quarter in 2015, but still the second highest July–September OHC in our record. The central North Pacific Ocean and subpolar North Atlantic Ocean remain cooler than the long-term mean. The cooler-than-normal signal in the western equatorial and sub-tropical Pacific Ocean observed in the previous quarter has significantly eroded, but lower-than-normal OHC still extends around the Equator across the Pacific Ocean. Cooler than long-term mean conditions extend from Australia in the tropical South Indian Ocean up to the western boundary of the basin. Cooler-than-normal conditions also exist in the southwestern Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The Gulf Stream/North Atlantic Current and the Kuroshio Current/Kuroshio Extension regions showed higher than long-term mean OHC.



The maps below represent precipitation percent of normal (left, using a base period of 1961–1990) and precipitation percentiles (right, using the period of record) based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations. As is typical, precipitation anomalies during September 2016 varied significantly around the world. September precipitation generally was drier than normal across parts of the southern and southeastern United States, western Colombia, northern and central Argentina, most of Europe and various parts of Russia and Asia. Wetter-than-normal conditions were notable across regions bordering the northern Mediterranean Sea, central Mongolia, South Korea to southern Japan, eastern Australia, and part of the central United States.

Select national information is highlighted below. (Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data):

  • September was very wet for Australia, with rainfall averaged across the country the second highest in the 117-year period of record, at 47.0 mm (1.85 inches), which is 283 percent of its typical rainfall for the month,. Only 2010 was wetter (50.8 mm / 2.0 inches). New South Wales, the Northern Territory, and the Murray-Darling Basin were each record wet for the month, while Victoria was second wettest, Queensland third wettest, and South Australia fifth wettest compared to their respective series. Compared to average, the Northern Territory's 48.8 mm (1.92 inches) was most extreme, at 696 percent of its typical September rainfall.
  • Rainfall deficits continued across all of France for the third consecutive month. September rainfall was close to just 60 percent of average.


Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Monthly Global Climate Report for September 2016, published online October 2016, retrieved on December 3, 2023 from