March 2016: Warmest March on Record for Planet Earth

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with March 2016 marking the warmest March ever recorded on this planet.

According to the State of the Climate report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 57.1°F. That is a staggering 2.20°F above the 20th century average and 0.54°F above the former record that was set last year. This temperature was also the highest departure from average for any month on record, surpassing the previous record that was set just last month.  Moreover, March 2016 marked the 11th month in a row to break a monthly global temperature record.

While heat dominated most of the planet, some places were particularly warm, including much of North America and Scandinavia. Here in the contiguous US, it was our 4th warmest March on record.

These soaring temperatures, scientists say, were fueled by a combination of El Niño, which is now fading, and the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. Research by Climate Central’s World Weather Attribution Program shows that while El Niño gives global temperatures a boost, the majority of the temperature increase is due to rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It should also be noted that no other strong El Niño event has produced temperature anomalies as large as the ones seen recently.

Year to date, the first three months of 2016 were the warmest such period on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

march 2016 was the 11th consecutive month to break a monthly temperature record. Credit: NOAA

March 2016 was the 11th consecutive month to break a monthly global temperature record.  Credit: NOAA