March 2018: Earth’s Fifth Warmest on Record

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with March 2018 marking the fifth warmest March ever recorded on this planet. This latest milestone comes on the heels of the three warmest Marches on record – 2015, 2016, and 2017.

According to a report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 56.39°F. That is 1.49°F above the 20th-century average. March was also the 399th consecutive month with a global temperature above its long-term norm. That means the last time any month posted a below average reading was December 1984.

While heat dominated most of the planet this March, some places were particularly warm, including Alaska, northeastern Canada, and most of Asia. These soaring global temperatures are largely attributed to the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. In fact, La Niña conditions – the cooling counterpart of El Niño – were present in the Pacific during March.

However, for many people in the US, especially in the eastern part of the county, this March was relatively cold. To put this disparity into context, consider that the contiguous United States constitutes less than 2% of the total surface of the Earth. This detail highlights the fact that climate change is a complex global phenomenon that involves much more than the short-term weather that is happening in our own backyards.

Year to date, the first three months of 2018 were the sixth warmest such period of any year on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

March 2018 was the fifth warmest March on record for the planet. Credit: NOAA