March 2017 ends up as 2d-warmest on record for Earth

U.S. and northeastern Eurasia were the hot spots for the month

Surface air temperature anomaly for March 2017 relative to the March average for the period 1981-2010. Source: ERA-Interim. (Credit: ECMWF, Copernicus Climate Change Service)

Staff Report

There was no let-up in the years-long global heatwave last month, as March ended up being the second-warmest ever, just 0.10 degrees Celsius behind the record warmth of March 2016. According the European Copernicus Climate Change Service, February and March 2017 showed most significant warm anomaly since April 2016, when the mega El Niño was fading away.

The near-record March warmth is the latest in an extraordinary string of heat for the planet, including the stretch between August 2015 to September 2016, when each month successively became the warmest on record for that particular calendar month.

March 2017 was warmer than the 1981-2010 average over almost all of Europe, particularly so over the east of the continent. Over northern Russia, peak warmth reached to 15 degrees Celsius above normal. Temperatures were also well above average above the contiguous USA, and over and off the coast of West Antarctica, where sea-ice extent remained extremely low. Other relatively warm areas include the famine-threatened regions of Central and East Africa, and much of Australia.

Cooler than normal readings were reported across Alaska, most of Canada and parts of southern Asia, southern Africa and East Antarctica. Below-average temperatures also occurred over an area of above-average sea-ice concentration between Svalbard and Greenland.

Temperatures were predominantly above average over the oceans, but March was relatively cool over some parts of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

Average temperatures for the twelve-month period from April 2016 to March 2017 were mostly above the 1981-2010 average in the Arctic, especially over and to the east of Svalbard, and higher than average over most areas of land and ocean. Cooler than average temperatures were recorded across parts of the Southern Oceans, western Australia and some small areas in South America and Africa, as well as over the equatorial Pacific, where weak La Niña conditions prevailed from around May 2016 until early 2017.

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