Earth had 13th warmest March on record
April 14, 2011
The Earth experienced the 13th warmest March since record keeping began in 1880, as the climate phenomenon La Niña continued to be a significant factor. The annual maximum Arctic sea ice extent was reached on March 7 and tied with 2006 as the smallest annual maximum extent since record keeping began in 1979.
Global surface temperature Anomalies - March 2011.
High Resolution (Credit: NOAA)
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Global temperature highlights – March
- The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for March 2011 was the 13th warmest on record at 55.78 F (13.19 C), which is 0.88 F (0.49 C) above the 20th century average of 54.9 F (12.7 C). The margin of error associated with this temperature is +/- 0.13 F (0.07 C).
- Separately, the global land surface temperature was 1.49 F (0.83 C) above the 20th century average of 40.8 F (5.0 C), and tied for the 12th warmest March on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.15 F (0.27 C).Warmer-than-average conditions occurred across most of Siberia, southwestern Greenland, southern North America, and most of Africa. Cooler-than-average regions included: most of Australia, the western half of Canada, most of Mongolia, China, and southeastern Asia.
- The March global ocean surface temperature was 0.65 F (0.36 C) above the 20th century average of 60.7 F (15.9 C), making it the 12th warmest March on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.07 F (0.04 C). The warmth was most pronounced in the equatorial Atlantic, the western Pacific Ocean, and across the Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes.
Global temperature highlights – year-to-date (January through March)
- The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the year to date (January 2011 – March 2011) was 0.77 F (0.43 C) above the 20th century average of 54.1 F (12.3 C), making it the 14th warmest such period on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.16 F (0.09 C).
- The year-to-date worldwide land surface temperature was 1.08 F (0.60 C) above the 20th century average — the 21st warmest such period on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.41 F (0.23 C). Warmer-than-average conditions occurred across northern Alaska, far northwestern Canada, southern Greenland and northern Siberia. Cooler-than-average regions included most of Europe, western Russia, Mongolia, much of China, Australia, and part of central North America.
- The global ocean surface temperature for the year to date was 0.65 F (0.36 C) above the 20th century average and was the 12th warmest such period on record. The margin of error is +/-0.07 F (0.04 C). The warmth was most pronounced across parts of the central western Pacific Ocean, the tropical Atlantic Ocean, the North Atlantic near Greenland and Canada, and the southern mid-latitude oceans.
- La Niña conditions continued to weaken in March for the third consecutive month, although sea-surface temperatures remained below normal across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, La Niña will continue to have global impacts through the Northern Hemisphere spring, but neither La Nina nor El Nino conditions are expected by June.
- The average high temperatures were the coolest on record for March across Australia. The Northern Territory and the state of South Australia experienced their coldest average maximum temperature in the 62-year period of record while Queensland was the lowest on record since 1971. Within the state of Western Australia, the eastern portion had its coolest March on record while its southwest had its warmest.
Polar sea ice and precipitation highlights
- The average Arctic sea ice extent during March was much-below average, ranking as the second smallest March on record, behind March 2006. On March 7, Arctic sea ice reached its annual maximum extent at 5.65 million square miles (14.64 million square kilometers), tying with 2006 as the smallest annual maximum extent in the satellite record.
- The March 2011 Antarctic sea ice extent was 16.2 percent below average and was third lowest for March since records began in 1979.
- Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during March ranked as the ninth largest on record, while the snow cover extent over North America was the sixth largest and largest since March 1979.
- England reported its driest March in 50 years and fifth driest since records began in 1910. East Anglia—a region in eastern England—had its second driest March on record, behind 1929.
- Average rainfall across Australia was 117 percent above average during March, making it the wettest March on record. In the north, the state of Queensland and the Northern Territory each reported the most March rainfall since records began in 1900. South Australia had its fourth highest March rainfall on record.
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* Included in this report: Based on requests from our users, NOAA is now making it easier to find information in its monthly analyses of global climate about ranges of uncertainty (“range”) associated with its global temperature calculations. NCDC previously displayed this information in certain graphics associated with the report, but it will now publish these ranges in the form of “plus or minus” values associated with each monthly temperature calculation. These values are calculated using techniques published in peer-reviewed scientific literature.