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Assessing the Global Climate in November 2021

November 2021 was the fourth-warmest November on record for globe; Northern Hemisphere autumn 2021 land temperature highest on record

Lisbon, Portugal with ocean and storm clouds in background
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The global temperature for November 2021 was the fourth highest for November in the 142-year NOAA record, which dates back to 1880. The year-to-date (January-November) global surface temperature was the sixth highest on record. According to NCEI’s Global Annual Temperature Rankings Outlook, it is virtually certain (> 99.0%) that the year 2021 will rank among the 10 warmest years on record.

 

This monthly summary, developed by scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making.

Monthly Global Temperature

 

The November 2021 global surface temperature was 1.64°F (0.91°C) above the 20th-century average of 55.2°F (12.9°C), the fourth-warmest November in the 142-year record. The 10 warmest Novembers have occurred since 2004. November 2021 also marked the 45th consecutive November and the 443rd consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average.

The Northern Hemisphere, as a whole, had its second warmest November on record, trailing behind the record set only last year (2020). The Southern Hemisphere November temperature tied with November of 2014 as the 10th warmest November on record.

During the month, temperatures were much above average across most of Africa and across parts of North America, South America, Asia, and across much of the Atlantic, western Pacific, and northeastern and southwestern Indian oceans. Temperatures were cooler than average across much of Alaska and Australia and across parts of Greenland, northwestern China, and the north, eastern and southeastern Pacific Ocean.

Regionally, Africa had its warmest November on record. South America and Asia had a top-10 warm November, while North America and Europe had a top-15 warm November. Meanwhile, Oceania had its coolest November since 1999.

 

Sea Ice and Snow Cover

According to data from NOAA and analysis by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during November was above the 1981-2010 average at 13.69 million square miles. Even though the snow cover extent for the Northern Hemisphere was above average, it was the smallest November extent since 2013. Eurasia also had an above-average November snow cover extent, which was the ninth largest on record for the month. Meanwhile, the North American snow cover extent was 220,000 square miles below average and was the 13th-smallest November extent on record. 

November 2021 Arctic (left) and Antarctic (right) sea ice extent. Courtesy of NOAA NCEI.

 

The November 2021 Arctic sea ice extent averaged 3.77 million square miles, which is 359,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average. This value tied with 2009 and 2011 as the ninth-smallest November extent in the 43-year record, according to an analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) using data from NOAA and NASA. 

The Antarctic sea ice extent for November 2021 was 5.8 million square miles, which is 370,000 square miles below average and the second-smallest sea ice extent for November on record. Only November of 2016 had a smaller sea ice extent.

Seasonal Global Temperature

 

The September-November 2021 global surface temperature was also 1.60°F (0.89°C) above the 20th-century average of 57.1°F (14.0°C) and the fourth-warmest September-November period in the 142-year record. The 10 warmest September-November periods have occurred since 2012. Globally, the land surface temperature was the second highest on record, behind the record set in 2020.

The September-November period is defined as the Northern Hemisphere’s meteorological autumn and the Southern Hemisphere’s meteorological spring. The Northern Hemisphere autumn 2021 temperature departure was also the fourth-highest for autumn on record. The Northern Hemisphere land autumn 2021 temperature was the highest on record, surpassing the now-second highest set in 2020. Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere spring temperature tied with 2014 and 2017 as the sixth-highest for spring on record.

Regionally, North America had its second warmest September-November on record, trailing behind the record set in 2016. South America, Africa, and Asia had a top-six warm September-November period. While Europe and Oceania had an above-average September-November temperature, it was their coolest such period since 2016 for both regions.

During the three-month period, temperatures were much above average across much of North America, South America, Africa and across parts of southern and eastern Asia as well as parts of the western Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic and Indian oceans. In contrast, parts of Alaska, Greenland, and the central and eastern Pacific Ocean had cooler-than-average September-November temperatures.

 

Global Tropical Cyclones

The Atlantic basin had near-average hurricane activity during November 2021 with only one named storm. November 30 officially closed the Atlantic hurricane season with a total of 21 named storms, which is the third-highest number of named storms for the season on record. The eastern North Pacific basin had above-average activity with two named storms during the month. The West Pacific basin had only one named storm, which is below the November average. Overall, the global tropical cyclone activity from January-November 2021 was above average with 87 named storms.


For a more complete summary of climate conditions and events, see our November 2021 Global Climate Report.