2024 already has 99% chance of being among 5 hottest years on record, NOAA says

The first month of 2024 was the hottest January on record, and it appears February is on track to follow it into the record books.

WASHINGTON – Earth was the hottest in the 175 years of recorded history for the eighth month in a row, and NOAA gave 2024 a 22% chance of beating 2023 as the hottest year on record.

NOAA's analysis released Wednesday reiterated the same conclusion that European scientists came to last week – the first month of the year was the world's hottest January on record.


"Based on current anomalies and historical global annual temperature readings, it appears that it is virtually certain that 2024 will be a top 10 year, consistent with a strong propensity since 1988 for recent years to be initially ranked as a top 10 year," NOAA scientists wrote.

NOAA gives 2024 the following odds for the year breaking planetary records:

  • 21.7% chance that it will be the warmest year on record.
  • 99.1% chance of ending as a top-five warmest year.
  • Better than a 99.9% chance that it will end as a top-10 warmest year.
  • There's 95% confidence that the year will be in the first- to fifth-warmest year on record.

Not every continent logged the warmest January on record. North America saw its 20th warmest on record, while South America experienced its warmest January on record. The Caribbean had its second-warmest January. Africa felt its warmest January ever and Australia had its third-warmest. 


The Arctic had its 15th warmest January with Europe seeing its 19th warmest. Asia measured its ninth-warmest January. 

Not everyone was hot in January

Antarctica experienced its fifth-coldest January on record.

Many across the U.S. are probably surprised to learn that January ranked even warmer than normal, considering the arctic blast that enveloped the nation last month. Temperatures from border to border were 25-35 degrees below normal for mid-January. Hundreds of cities shivered in the coldest daily temperatures on record, so many not even making it to zero degrees for days on end.

At least five people died from hypothermia and cold-related illnesses. On one Saturday during the deep freeze, the FOX Forecast Center calculated that 73% of the country woke up to below-freezing temperatures


Even with the arctic blast, the Great Lakes recorded the lowest ice cover on record. 

The cold snap was quickly followed by a February heat wave that broke more than 300 daily record highs in just the first few days of the month. So, the second month of 2024 seems to be on track to follow January into the record books.

AI used for first time to build NOAA's climate report

Weather stations across the world measure land temperatures. Ships, buoys and unmanned vehicles measure sea surface temperatures across the world.  

"When combined together, the data provide a full picture of the Earth’s temperature, including change over time," NOAA said in a statement.

For the first time ever, this month, NOAA started using artificial intelligence to craft the January 2024 Global Climate Report. Physical thermometers are few and far between, so scientists put together a database of historical world temperatures, dating back to 1850. That database is then compared to present-day temperatures to help calculate temperatures in areas that are not monitored. 

"An Artificial Neural Network method to improve the surface temperature reconstruction over the land was implemented," NOAA stated. "This new method improves the accuracy of surface air temperature reconstruction. Improvements were larger in the Southern Hemisphere – especially Antarctica – and larger before the 1950s, which is directly associated with the availability of observations."