October 2021 was world’s fourth warmest on record

Northern Hemisphere saw record-warm October land temperature

A collage of typical climate and weather-related events: floods, heatwaves, drought, hurricanes, wildfires and loss of glacial ice.
A collage of typical climate and weather-related events: floods, heatwaves, drought, hurricanes, wildfires and loss of glacial ice. (NOAA)

October 2021 ranked as the fourth-warmest October in 142 years, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

Looking at just land temperature, the Northern Hemisphere hit a new high and logged its warmest October on record.

Here are highlights from NOAA’s October global climate report:

Climate by the numbers

October 2021

The average global land and ocean surface temperature in October was 1.60 degrees F (0.89 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average of 57.2 degrees F (14.0 degrees C), making it the fourth-warmest October in the global climate record. 

The last eight Octobers (2014-2021) all rank among the eight warmest Octobers on record.

The unusual warmth across the Northern Hemisphere’s land area resulted in the warmest October land temperature on record. Meanwhile, North America had its second-warmest October on record, behind the record-warm October of 1963. South America had its third-warmest October, while Africa and Asia had their seventh and 12th-warmest October on record, respectively.

Year to date | January through October

Globally, the YTD temperature (January through October) ranked as sixth warmest recorded, 1.51 degrees F (0.84 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average of 57.4 degrees F (14.1 degrees C). The Northern Hemisphere’s YTD temperature was sixth warmest on record, while the Southern Hemisphere’s tied with 2010 and 2014 for eighth warmest.

According to NCEI’s Global Annual Temperature Rankings Outlook, 2021 is on track to be among the 10 warmest years on record for the globe.

A map of the world plotted with some of the most significant climate events that occurred during October 2021.
A map of the world plotted with some of the most significant climate events that occurred during October 2021. Please see the story below as well as more details in the report summary from NOAA NCEI at https://bit.ly/Global202110.

Other notable climate stats and facts

Sea ice coverage was sparse at both poles: According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center offsite link, the October 2021 Arctic sea ice extent (coverage) was 61,000 square miles below average, tying with 2017 as the eighth-smallest October extent in the 43-year record. Antarctic sea ice coverage last month was 180,000 square miles below average, ranking as the fourth-smallest October sea ice coverage on record. Only the Octobers of 1984, 1986, and 2016 had a smaller sea ice extent. 

Tropical activity is running high in 2021: The total number of named global tropical storms for the YTD (Atlantic, Indian and Pacific basins) is 86, which is above normal for the first 10 months of the year. Although the Atlantic basin had relatively little tropical activity in October, the number of named storms tallied so far for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is 21, the third-highest number of named storms on record.

More > Access NOAA’s full climate report and download images from the NCEI website.

 

Media contact

John Bateman, john.jones-bateman@noaa.gov, (202) 424-0929