Although the planet showed some signs of cooling off in September, the government says the Jan. 1-Sept. 30 period tied 1998 for the warmest on record.
The combined land and sea temperature was 58.67, according to the National Climate Data Center, driven in part by the widespread warming of the equatorial Pacific -- El Niño -- earlier in the year.
In the last few months, however, the waters have cooled rapidly, as if nature were dumping buckets of ice out there.
This week, the government's Climate Prediction Center update showed that the Pacific had slipped radically into the cool phase, La Niña. With that widespread cooling over a continent-size portion of the ocean, September was only No. 8 on the all-time warm list, based on records dating to 1880. La Niña is expected to persist through the winter. ...