NOAA: 2013 Had Warmest November 'on Record,' Year-to-Date Tied for 4th

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | January 8, 2014 | 4:31 PM EST

Despite this week's cold front sweeping the U.S., the new data from NOAA show the Earth had the highest November temperature on record in 2013.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Analysis, 2013 (through November) tied for the fourth highest temperature for the first eleven months of any year on record:

"The average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces during November 2013 was record highest for November in the 134-year period of record, at 0.78°C (1.40°F) above the 20th century average. This surpasses the previous record set in 2004 by 0.03°C (0.05°F)."

"The globally-averaged temperature across land and ocean surfaces for the first eleven months of 2013 (January-November) was 0.62°C (1.06°F) above the 20th century average, tying with 2002 as the fourth warmest January-November on record."

By highest "of record," NOAA means it's the highest since it began tracking global temperatures in 1880.

Still, here's the ranking (1880-2013) of every month so far in 2013:

Highest November on record

7th highest October on record

4th highest September on record - tied with 2003

4th highest August on record - tied with 2005

6th highest July on record

5th highest June on record - tied with 2006

3rd highest May on record - tied with 1998 and 2005

13th highest April on record

10th highest March on record - tied with 2010

9th highest February on record - tied with 2003

9th highest January on record - tied with 1995

Of course, 134 years isn't much of a sample. As National Geographic notes, the Earth was much warmer 144 million years ago than it is now, and has since been much colder several times:

"Earth's climate has changed many times. For example, fossils from the Cretaceous period (144 to 65 million years ago) show that Earth was much warmer than it is today. Fossilized plants and animals that normally live in warm environments have been found at much higher latitudes than they could survive at today. For instance, breadfruit trees, now found on tropical islands, grew as far north as Greenland."

"Earth has also experienced several major ice ages-at least four in the past 500,000 years."