Global temperature 2002

2002 proved the second warmest year on record world-wide, with moderate El Niño conditions during the second half of the year contributing to the warming.

Global surface air temperature: monthly data as departure from 1961-1990 mean.

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According to the National Climate Data Center in the United States, surface temperatures were above average over most land areas of the two hemispheres in 2002, with widespread warmth over North America and Eurasia. Southwest Asia experienced a notable heatwave during May and June with maximum temperatures reaching 50°C. Over 1,000 deaths occurred on the Indian subcontinent.

Record low levels of Arctic sea ice were reported in September and the greatest surface melt of the Greenland Ice Sheet since satellite data began over 20 years ago was observed.

Australia, north China and western United States experienced drought during 2002, as did India as monsoon rainfall fell well below normal. Flooding hit the Mekong Delta as the monsoon reached Southeast Asia, breaking the drought of early 2002.

Prospects for the rest of 2003 will depend, to some degree, on whether a La Niña event emerges. Recent data from the Pacific suggest this could occur. As of June 2003, indications remained mixed. Conditions in the Pacific may remain near-neutral over the coming months or a moderate cold event may develop.

Further information
The Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary provides coverage of current climate events at