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     * Precipitation, relative humidity and soil moisture for January 2020

Precipitation, relative humidity and soil moisture for January 2020

   In January 2020, Europe was generally drier than average with notable exceptions including Norway and the region from northeastern Spain into southern France, which saw much above average rainfall. Further afield in the extra-tropical Southern Hemisphere, a number of countries experienced much above average rainfall, including western Australia, Madagascar and Mozambique.
     * Europe - January 2020
     * Europe - last 12 months - February 2019 to January 2020
     * Globe - January 2020
     * Globe - last 12 months - February 2019 to January 2020
     * Longer term trends

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   The surface hydrological variables are more difficult to observe and analyse than surface temperature. The data on soil moisture are currently of qualitative rather than quantitative value. This summary is intended to provide European and near-global views of conditions for the month. Specific information for many countries can be found on the websites of their weather or climate services.

Europe - January 2020

   January hydrological anomalies Europe Anomalies in precipitation, the relative humidity of surface air, the volumetric moisture content of the top 7 cm of soil and surface air temperature for January 2019 with respect to January averages for the period 1981-2010. The darker grey shading denotes where soil moisture is not shown due to ice cover or climatologically low precipitation. Data source: ERA5 Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF
   DOWNLOAD THE ORIGINAL IMAGE

   The hydrological indicators for January 2020 show drier than average conditions for large parts of Europe, with precipitation and soil moisture being below average in most of the continent, particularly in the regions adjacent to the Adriatic and Aegean Seas.

   On the other hand, European regions with wetter than average conditions, including most of northern Europe, included most of northern Europe (such as large parts of the Nordic countries and the UK) as well as eastern Spain extending into southern France. The latter region was impacted by flooding as a result of heavy precipitation and storm surges brought by storm Gloria in the third week of the month. According to MET Norway, Norway saw it wettest January since at least 1900, with multiple stations seeing the highest January precipitation on record.

Europe - last 12 months - February 2019 to January 2020

   12 month European hydrology anomalies map Anomalies in precipitation, the relative humidity of surface air, the volumetric moisture content of the top 7 cm of soil and surface air temperature for February 2019 to January 2020 with respect to 1981-2010. The darker grey shading denotes where soil moisture is not shown due to ice cover or climatologically low precipitation. Data source: ERA5 Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF
   DOWNLOAD THE ORIGINAL IMAGE

   For the last 12 months, ending in January 2020, large parts of central and eastern Europe saw drier than average conditions, with above average temperature and all three hydrological indicators (precipitation, soil moisture and relative humidity) below their respective 1981-2010 average. During the same period, wetter than average conditions, marked by above average precipitation and soil moisture, prevailed in eastern Iceland, Ireland, large parts of the UK, large parts of Scandinavia, Finland, and some regions along the Mediterranean Sea, including the southernmost parts of Italy, Greece and parts of Turkey. Some regions, including northern and western France, northern and eastern Spain and parts of Italy, saw above average precipitation, but below average soil moisture.

Globe - January 2020

   Polar Hydrological Anomalies Map Anomalies in precipitation, the relative humidity of surface air and the volumetric moisture content of the top 7 cm of soil for January 2020 with respect to January averages for the period 1981-2010. The darker grey shading denotes where soil moisture is not shown due to ice cover or climatologically low precipitation. Data source: ERA5 Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF
   DOWNLOAD THE ORIGINAL IMAGE

   Beyond Europe, in the Northern Hemisphere extra-tropics, January 2020 brought wetter than average conditions, with above average precipitation, soil moisture and relative humidity, in a large region of Asia stretching from the middle East, across the southern central Asian countries into north eastern China. North of this extended region, conditions were generally drier than average, with below average precipitation and soil moisture. In North America, conditions were more mixed. The west coast of northern USA and southern Canada saw much above average precipitation, with values amongst highest on record for January in Vancouver and at several stations across Washington
   State.

   In the extra-tropical Southern Hemisphere, drier than average conditions prevailed in many regions. However, compared to previous months, there were also quite a few regions with wetter than average conditions. The west of Australia, Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi, as well as southern Brazil, all saw much above average precipitation. Following heavy precipitation and flooding, the government of Madagascar declared a national disaster. In Australia, the above average monthly precipitation in the west came from a
   number of tropical systems, including two tropical cyclones, whereas in most of the wildfire-affected areas in the southeast rainfall remained below average.

Globe - last 12 months - February 2019 to January 2020

   12 month polar anomalies map Anomalies in precipitation, the relative humidity of surface air and the volumetric moisture content of the top 7 cm of soil for February 2019 to January 2020 with respect to 1981-2010. The darker grey shading denotes where soil moisture is not shown due to ice cover or climatologically low precipitation. Data source: ERA5 Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF
   DOWNLOAD THE ORIGINAL IMAGE

   For the 12 months ending in January 2020, precipitation, soil moisture and relative humidity were below average (indicating generally dry conditions) within a belt stretching eastwards from Europe across large parts of Asia. This dry belt includes most of the regions to the north and east of the Black and Caspian Seas, as well as some parts of central Asia, Russia, Mongolia and northern China.

   Southern Africa and Australia experienced much drier than average conditions, with severe drought conditions in many parts of these regions. The exception is the remarkable extreme rainfall in Queensland during the past March, whose imprint is still visible in the annual average. Furthermore, in the southern and central parts of South America, conditions were generally drier than average. In southeast Africa, including the north of Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique conditions were wetter than average.

   Precipitation and relative humidity were higher than average over parts of the Middle East, central China. Generally wet conditions marked by above average precipitation prevailed in western and central USA, Alaska and eastern Canada. Soil moisture and relative humidity show a mixed picture in these regions.

Longer term trends

   Monthly humidity anomalies Monthly anomalies with respect to 1981-2010 in the relative humidity of surface air averaged over all and European land areas, from January 1979 to January 2020. The darker coloured bars denote the January values. Data source: ERA5 Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF
   ACCESS TO DATA  |  DOWNLOAD THE ORIGINAL IMAGE

   Relative humidity averaged over all land areas globally has decreased over the last forty years and has remained around a lower level since the early 2000s. In contrast, the average relative humidity for January 2020 was well above average for the first time in over three years.

   Relative humidity averaged over Europe is more variable, but in general also shows a net decline over time. Relative humidity for January 2020 in Europe was just below average.

   The observed drying is not associated with an appreciable reduction in precipitation, as shown below for four European regions. It may be a consequence of a period in which surface air temperature rose faster over land than it did over sea. Continued monitoring is required to document behaviour over a longer period and refine the understanding of this aspect of climate variability or change.

   The variation over time of the hydrological variables and temperature are shown below for averages over land areas for NW, NE, SW and SE Europe. Values are averaged over successive four-month periods in order to highlight variations on seasonal and longer time scales.
   Regional differences are quite pronounced in the time series. Average precipitation rates are higher in the north, particularly the NW, but precipitation is more variable in the southern regions. This is not simply a consequence of the smaller areas of the southern regions or the four-month averaging, as can be inferred from maps of the variance of monthly precipitation. Warming is largest in the NE, but the decrease in relative humidity is larger in the south. The correlations between precipitation, relative humidity and soil moisture, evident in the maps of anomalies, can be seen to hold for the area averages on time scales up to a year or more. However, average precipitation does not show the marked longer-term decrease seen for relative humidity and soil moisture.

   The four months to January 2020 for NW Europe saw wetter than average conditions, as indicated by much above average precipitation, above average soil moisture and relative humidity. Temperature was also above average.

   The four months to January 2020 saw mixed conditions for NE Europe with just above average precipitation, below average soil moisture, above average relative humidity and much above average temperature. The four months to January 2020 were the second warmest four-month period in this data record for NE Europe.

   The four months to January 2020 for SW Europe saw precipitation that was above average, soil moisture and relative humidity were below average. Temperature was above average.

   The four months to January 2019 saw dry conditions in SE Europe with precipitation, relative humidity and soil moisture being below average, and temperature above average. In particular soil moisture was very low.
   NW Europe Hydro Anomalies Running four-month averages of anomalies over land areas for NW Europe with respect to 1981-2010 for precipitation, the relative humidity of surface air, the volumetric moisture content of the top 7 cm of soil and surface air temperature, based on monthly values from January 1979 to January 2020. The annual averages for 1981-2010 are shown in the top right corner of each panel. Data source: ERA5 Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF
   ACCESS TO DATA  |  DOWNLOAD THE ORIGINAL IMAGE


   NE Europe Hydro Anomalies Running four-month averages of anomalies over land areas for NE Europe with respect to 1981-2010 for precipitation, the relative humidity of surface air, the volumetric moisture content of the top 7 cm of soil and surface air temperature, based on monthly values from January 1979 to January 2020. The annual averages for 1981-2010 are shown in the top right corner of each panel. Data source: ERA5 Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF
   ACCESS TO DATA  |  DOWNLOAD THE ORIGINAL IMAGE


   SW Europe Hydro Anomalies Running four-month averages of anomalies over land areas for SW Europe with respect to 1981-2010 for precipitation, the relative humidity of surface air, the volumetric moisture content of the top 7 cm of soil and surface air temperature, based on monthly values from January 1979 to January 2020. The annual averages for 1981-2010 are shown in the top right corner of each panel. Data source: ERA5 Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF
   ACCESS TO DATA  |  DOWNLOAD THE ORIGINAL IMAGE SE Europe Hydro Anomalies Running four-month averages of anomalies over land areas for SE Europe with respect to 1981-2010 for precipitation, the relative humidity of surface air, the volumetric moisture content of the top 7 cm of soil and surface air temperature, based on monthly values from January 1979 to January 2020. The annual averages for 1981-2010 are shown in the top right corner of each panel. Data source: ERA5 Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF
   ​​​ACCESS TO DATA  |  DOWNLOAD THE ORIGINAL IMAGE


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   HYDROLOGICAL VARIABLES OF PREVIOUS MONTHS
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   YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE MAPS AND THE DATA ON OUR HYDROLOGICAL ANALYSIS PAGE.
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   MONTHLY CLIMATE UPDATE
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   FEATURED STORIES
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   SURFACE AIR TEMPERATURE FOR JANUARY 2020

   SEA ICE COVER FOR JANUARY 2020


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