October 2017: Earth’s Fourth Warmest on Record

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with October 2017 tying October 2003 as the fourth warmest October ever recorded on this planet. Only October 2014, 2015, and 2016 were warmer.

According to the State of the Climate Report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 58.41°F. That is 1.31°F above the 20th-century average. October was also the 394th consecutive month with a global temperature above its long-term norm. That means the last time any month posted a below average reading was December 1984.

It is also interesting to note that the ten warmest Octobers on record have all occurred in the 21st century.

While heat dominated most of the planet last month, some places were particularly warm, including much of Europe, northern Russia, and the northeastern United States. For the contiguous US as a whole, the month ranked among the warmest third of the historical record.

These soaring temperatures are largely attributed to the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. In fact, a weak La Niña – the cool counterpart of El Niño – developed in the tropical Pacific during October.

Year to date, the first ten months of 2017 were the third warmest such period of any year on record. With only two months left, 2017 is expected to end up among the top three warmest years ever recorded on this planet. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

October 2017 was the planet’s 4th warmest October on record. Credit: NOAA