Despite cold wave in US, December 2013 was the third hottest December since records began in 1880
Despite regional cold waves, global temps were highWhile most people in North-America are having a terribly cold winter, with the 'Polar Vortex' being in the zeitgeist since early January, the planet as a whole is still close to record high temperatures according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Australia, for example, is so hot that bats are falling from the trees and kangaroos are passing out.
The latest data for the month of December 2013 shows that the average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for December 2013 was the third highest for December since records began in 1880, at 0.64°C (1.15°F) above the 20th century average of 12.2°C (54.0°F). Even if we take out the oceans, the globally-averaged land surface temperature for December is tied with 1998 as the fifth highest for December on record, at 1.16°C (2.09°F) above average. The globally-averaged ocean surface temperature tied with 2004 as the seventh highest for December on record, at 0.46°C (0.83°F) above average.
As for the year as a whole, the average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for January–December 2013 is tied with 2003 as the 4th warmest such period on record, at 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average.
The map at the top of this article shows anomalies for December 2013, with the main cold one over North-America while the rest of the world is mostly in the red. The second map right above this shows the same period but with temperature percentiles. Again, you can see how most is in the red.
The map above gives more details on the climate anomalies that were detected in December 2013. You can see a larger version of the map here.