March 2016 shattered another monthly temperature record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported in its monthly global analysis on climate.
The combined average temperature across the globe — including both land and sea — was 1.22 C above the 20th century average of 12.7 C. It was so warm that it was the highest monthly temperature departure ever recorded, of all 1,635 months.
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The nine highest monthly temperature anomalies have all occurred over the last nine months. It is also the eleventh month in a row that a monthly temperature record has been broken.
It was the warmest March in North America since continental record-keeping began in 1910. The Arctic sea ice extent for the month was the second smallest since satellite records began in 1979. The previous record was set in 2015.
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Most of northwestern Canada and Alaska were 3 C warmer than the 1981-2010 average. However, far northeastern Canada was cooler than average.
While a record-strong El Niño fuelled the past few months of monthly temperature anomalies, by March it had already “weakened considerably,” the climate agency said. Despite the weakening, global sea surface temperatures were still 0.81 C above the 20th century monthly average, and the warmest for March in the 1880-2016 record.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting neutral conditions in the Pacific Ocean where El Niño and La Niña conditions occur. La Niña — a cooling in the Pacific — is expected to occur some time in the fall.