Climate: Global March temps blow away old records


Warmest ever … and then some

March 2016 set more global temperature records.

Staff Report

It’s getting harder to find the proper adjectives to describe the remarkable string of temperature records set during the past few months, and March 2016 was no exception. For the month, and the year-to-date, parts of every inhabited continent and every major ocean basin had some regions with record warmth for the year-to-date.

Once again, the average global temperature spiked to a new record high. At 2.2 degrees above the 20th century average, the March reading broke last year’s record by 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit. It was the 11th month in a row when the average global temperature soared to a new high, the longest streak of record highs in the 137-year record, according to the  monthly summary from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

Despite a weakening El Niño, March saw the highest-ever global ocean surface temperature, at 1.46 degrees Fahrenheit above the March 20th century average. It was the highest March ocean surface temperature in 1880-2016 record.

The average global land surface temperature was even warmer, at 4.19 degrees above the 20th century average. This was the highest for March in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2008 by 0.77 degrees Fahrenheit. The report also shows record high temps in various layers of the atmosphere.

Some of the consequences of the long-running spate of record global temperatures include a record-low maximum Arctic sea ice extent, as well as near-record low snow cover across the Northern Hemisphere.

The year-to-date global temperature is also the warmest on record, breaking the 2015 record by 0.50 degrees Fahrenheit.


For March, some of the warmest areas included record readings across eastern Brazil, most of eastern and central Africa, much of southeastern Asia, and large portions of northern and eastern Australia. Most of northwestern Canada and Alaska, along with vast regions of northern and western Asia, recorded temperatures at least 5 degrees Fahrenheit above average.


Parts of the Arctic were also extremely warm for the month, with some stations, like Svalbard Airport, reporting readings more than 15 degrees Fahrenheit above average. Overall, it was the second-warmest March on record for the Arctic, just 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than 2011.

Information compiled from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for March 2016:





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