September Ties Global Record While Ice Extremes Set at Each Pole

September was the warmest on record going back to 1880, the Arctic had its least amount of sea ice and the Antarctic had the most, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The global average temperature for September was 60.21 degrees Fahrenheit (15.67 Celsius), tying 2005 as the warmest on record, according to NOAA. It was also the 35th September and the 331st consecutive month that recorded temperatures above the 20th century average.

“The last below-average September temperature was September 1976, and the last below-average temperature for any month was February 1985,” according to the NOAA report.

The high temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere have contributed to widespread drought across the U.S. and eastern Europe, where Hungary is experiencing its worst dry period in 20 years. Corn and soybean prices have risen, taking food prices with them, because of the parched conditions. Traffic on the Mississippi River was also slowed when water levels in shipping channels fell.

The Arctic sea ice also shrank to 1.39 million square miles, or 49 percent below the 1979-2000 average, which was also the lowest monthly mark in the 34-year record.

“More than 4.57 million square miles of ice melted in 2012, the size of the entire United States and Mexico combined,” the report showed. “The largest annual sea ice loss on record for the Arctic.”

In Antarctica, where September marks the transition from winter to spring, the average sea ice extent for the month was 7.49 million square miles breaking the previous mark set in September 2006, according to the report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at

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