March 2016 Another Monthly Global Warmth Record


March 2016 Another Monthly Global Warmth Record

Earth’s global temperatures in March 2016 set another monthly record, continuing an almost year-long streak of records shattered, according to three recent independent analyes.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) calculated the global mean March 2016 temperature was 0.62 degrees Celsius (about 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit) above the March 30-year average from 1981-2010.

jma-mar2016-graph Anomaly of global mean March surface temperature from 1891 through 2016, relative to a 1981-2010 base period average, shown by gray line and dots. The blue line denotes a five-year running mean while the red line indicates the long-term March temperature trend.
mar-2016-globe-tempanoms-erainterim March 2016 surface air temperature anomalies, in degrees Celsius, relative to a 1981-2010 average period.
(ERA-Interim/Copernicus Climate Change Service)

A second analysis released Friday from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies also concluded March anomalies were the highest in their period of record dating to 1880, a whopping 1.28 degrees Celsius above the 1951-1980 average period.

A few tenths of a degree may not sound overwhelming, but in the world of climate statistics, computed from worldwide temperatures, this is yet another record-shattering figure.

In fact, this warm anomaly doubled the previous record for the month of March in the JMA’s database, +0.31 degrees Celsius, set the previous year, 2015.

Similarly, NASA found the March 2016 anomaly crushed the previous March record by over 0.3 degrees.

A third analysis from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) also found March 2016 to be a record-setter for the month, 0.80 degrees Celsius above the 30-year average, though records date only to 1979.

An analysis from NOAA will be released on April 19.

As has been the case in recent months, the highest temperature anomalies in March were in the highest latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

The C3S analysis found temperatures over 6 degrees Celsius (about 10 degrees Fahrenheit) above March averages over much of the Arctic Ocean, Greenland, Barents Sea, Kara Sea, Alaska, northwest Canada, parts of central Asia and Siberia.

Generally above-average March temperatures were seen in the mid-latitudes and tropics both north and south of the equator, with the exceptions of eastern Canada, the North Atlantic Ocean, western Europe, northwest Africa, and central South America.

Much of Antarctica, however, was cooler than average in March, with the exception of the Antarctic Peninsula, Coats Land and Queen Maud Land.

It was a record warm March in Australia, according to the country’s Bureau of Meteorology, which was followed by the hottest April day on record in Sydney.

March also topped one of the warmest first three months of the year on record in the United States.

11 Straight Months and Counting…

March 2016 marked the 11th consecutive month global temperatures set records for that particular month in the JMA database.

Six straight months in NASA’s analysis have exceeded a 1 degree Celsius monthly anomaly, something that had not happened a single time before dating to 1880.

Perhaps even more impressive, nine of the 10 largest monthly warm anomalies in the 125-year JMA analysis record have occurred from May 2015 through March 2016. Only February 1998, on the heels of another strong El Niño, remains in the JMA’s top 10 list.

JMA’s 10 Largest Global Monthly Warm Anomalies (Degrees C) Since 1891
December 2015 +0.66˚
February 2016 +0.62˚
March 2016 +0.62˚
November 2015 +0.54˚
October 2015 +0.53˚
January 2016 +0.52˚
September 2015 +0.51˚
August 2015 +0.46˚
February 1998 +0.43˚
June 2015 +0.41˚

The previous month, February 2016, was the most abnormally warm month on record for the globe, according to both NOAA and NASA, though JMA’s analysis says December 2015 was the most abnormally warm.

Climate scientists emphasize that whether a given month is a fraction of a degree warmer or cooler than a previous month isn’t as important as the long-term, overall trend.

And that trend of warm anomalies over the past year or so has become disconcerting, not simply due to the record-tying strong El Niño, but also the degree of higher northern latitude warming.

According to international weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera, new national all-time record highs have been set so far in 2016 in the following locations:

  • Botswana (43.8 degrees Celsius at Maun)
  • Burkina Faso (47.5 degrees Celsius at Dori)
  • Cambodia (42.6 degrees Celsius at Preah Vihea)
  • Laos (42.3 degrees Celsius to Seno)
  • Tonga (35.5 degrees Celsius at Niuafoou)
  • Vanuatu (36.2 degrees Celsius at Lamap Malekula)
  • Wallis and Futuna (35.8 degrees Celsius at Maopoopo)

Interestingly, Herrera noted Hong Kong set an all-time record low for the territory, dipping to -5.7 degrees Celsius (just under 22 degrees Fahrenheit) atop Tai Mo Shan, the highest peak overlooking Hong Kong at an elevation of 957 meters (3,140 feet) above sea level.


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