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1998 Warmest Year on Record

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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999


1998 Warmest Year on Record

Item #d99feb35

NOAA Press Release 99-1 noted that global temperatures in 1998 were the warmest since reliable instrument records began 119 years ago. The previous record high surface temperature was set in 1997. The global mean temperature in 1998 was 1.20° F (0.66° C) above the long-term average value of 56.9° F (13.8° C). This was the 20th consecutive year with an annual global mean surface temperature exceeding the long-term average. Both land and sea surface temperatures exceeded the long-term average. As in all years, climate effects were regional. Tropical latitudes (30° N to 30° S) established a new temperature record by a wide margin while a persistent flow off the Indian Ocean brought relatively cool, cloudy weather to equatorial east Africa during the first half of the year and while annual temperatures averaged below the 1880–1997 mean over northern sections of Eurasia and southern South America. A rapid reversal in the sea-surface temperature anomaly pattern occurred in the eastern equatorial Pacific as warm anomalies (El Niño) transitioned to cold anomalies (La Niña) during the latter half of the year. During the year, the global average precipitation over land strayed less than 0.1 in. (2.5 mm) above the 1900–1997 mean. However, large variations were evident in the distribution of this precipitation with an average surplus of precipitation in the majority of the Northern Hemisphere, and a deficit elsewhere. The detailed statistics are available on the World Wide Webat

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