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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Climatic Data Center
- The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for March 2010 was the warmest on record at 13.5°C (56.3°F), which is 0.77°C (1.39°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F).
This was also the 34th consecutive March with global land and ocean temperatures above the 20th century average.
- The March worldwide land surface temperature was 1.36°C (2.45°F) above the 20th century average of 5.0°C (40.8°F) – the fourth warmest on record.
- The worldwide ocean surface temperature was 0.56°C (1.01°F) above the 20th century average of 15.9°C (60.7°F) and the warmest March on record.
- For the year-to-date, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature of 13.0°C (55.3°F) was the fourth warmest January-March period. This value is 0.66°C (1.19°F) above the 20th century average.
(Note: some links in the introduction are to .pdf’s)
Temperature anomalies for March 2010 are shown on the dot maps below. The dot map on the left provides a spatial representation of anomalies calculated from the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) dataset of land surface stations using a 1961-1990 base period. The dot map on the right is a product of a merged land surface and sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly analysis developed by Smith et al. (2008). For the merged land surface and SST analysis, temperature anomalies with respect to the 1971-2000 average for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCDC’s Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.
Anomalies in degrees Celsius
The combined global land and ocean surface temperature anomaly for March 2010 was 0.77°C (1.39°F) above the 20th century average, resulting in the warmest March since records began in 1880. The previous record was set in 2002 when temperatures were 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average.
Sea surface temperatures (SST) during March 2010 were warmer than average across much of the world’s oceans, with the cooler-than-average conditions across the higher-latitude southern oceans, across parts of the northern Pacific Ocean, and along the western coast of South America.
Warmer-than-average conditions were most pronounced in the equatorial portions of the oceans, where the tropical ocean surface temperature (equatorward of 20 degrees latitude) also had its warmest March on record. The March 2010 worldwide SST ranked as the warmest on record, with an anomaly of 0.56°C (1.01°F) above the 20th century average-the previous record was set in 1998.
El Niño weakened to moderate strength during March; however, it contributed significantly to the warmth observed in the tropical belt and the overall ocean temperature. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, El Niño is expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2010 and transition to ENSO-neutral conditions by the Northern Hemisphere summer 2010.
The worldwide land surface temperature was the fourth warmest on record, with a temperature anomaly of 1.36°C (2.45°F) above the 20th century average. During March 2010, warmer-than-average conditions dominated the globe, with the most prominent warmth in northern Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Canada. Cooler-than-average conditions were present across Mongolia, central and eastern Russia, northern and western Europe, Mexico, the southeastern U.S., northern Australia, and western Alaska.
Most of Canada was engulfed by abnormally warm conditions during March 2010. Mean temperature records were set or tied across Ontario, Canada, as mean temperatures were 2.5°-8.1°C above the March average, according to Environment Canada.
The March 2010 average temperature across China was 3.4°C (38.1°F), which is 0.02°C (0.04°F) above the 1971-2000 average of 3.2°C (37.8°C)-according to Beijing Climate Center (BCC). It was reported that Tibet experienced its second warmest March temperatures since historic records began in 1951 (Source: BCC).
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), many locations across India experienced their warmest March maximum, minimum, or mean temperatures on record. Delhi, India experienced above-average temperatures during March 2010. The average maximum and minimum temperatures for March 2010 were 34.1°C (93.4°F) and 18.6°C (65.5°F)-which is 4.1°C (7.4°F) and 3.2°C (5.8°F) above average, respectively. These were the second warmest March maximum and minimum temperatures, behind 1953 (34.3°C [93.7°F]) and 1916 (18.8 [65.8°F]), respectively. Delhi’s average mean temperature during March 2010 was 26.3°C (79.3°F), the second warmest March mean temperature on record, behind 1953 (26.4°C [79.5°F]). Records in Delhi began in 1901. Please see IMD’s March 2010 report for additional information.
The March 2010 average temperature for the Northern Hemisphere as a whole (land and ocean surface combined) was 0.92°C (1.66°F) above the 20th century average-the third warmest March on record, behind 2008 (warmest March) and 1990 (second warmest March). The Northern Hemisphere ocean temperature during March 2010 ranked as the warmest March on record, with an anomaly of 0.54°C (0.97°F) above the 20th century average. The previous record was set in 2004 when the Northern Hemisphere March ocean temperature was 0.49°C (0.88°F) above the 20th century average. The March 2010 Northern Hemisphere land temperature was the fourth warmest on record (1.52°C [2.74°F] above the 20th century average).
The average temperature for the Southern Hemisphere as a whole (land and ocean surface combined) was 0.64°C (1.15°F) above the 20th century average-the second warmest March on record, behind 1998. The Southern Hemisphere ocean temperature during March 2010 also represented the second warmest, with an anomaly of 0.59°C (1.06°F) above the 20th century average. The March 2010 Southern Hemisphere land temperature was 0.95°C (1.71°F) above the 20th century average-the warmest on record. The previous record was set in 1998.
The January-March 2010 map of temperature anomalies shows that for the first three months of the year anomalous warm temperatures were present over much of the world, with the exception of cooler-than-average conditions across the higher-latitude southern oceans, the northern Pacific Ocean, and along the western South American coast, Mongolia, northern China, northern Australia, the south central and southeastern contiguous U.S., northern Mexico, and most of Europe and Russia. The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for January-March period was the fourth warmest on record. This value is 0.66°C (1.19°F) above the 20th century average. Separately, the worldwide land surface temperature ranked as the fifth warmest on record, while the worldwide ocean surface temperature ranked as the second warmest January-March on record-behind 1998.
Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover Extent
Analyses of NOAA data were provided by the Global Snow Laboratory, Rutgers University. Period of record is 1967-2010.
During March 2010, snowfall across the Northern Hemisphere was variable. In North America, warmer-than-average temperatures led to rapid snow melt, while parts of Eurasia had below-average temperatures and above average snow cover extent. These conditions contributed to a near average Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent. The average Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during March 2010 was 0.3 million square kilometers above average, resulting in the 18th largest March snow cover extent on record. The average Northern Hemisphere March snow cover extent for the 1967-2010 period of record is 40.3 million square kilometers.
Across North America, snow cover extent for March 2010 was below average, the eighth lowest extent since satellite records began in 1967. The average North American March snow cover extent is 15.7 million square kilometers for the 1967-2010 period of record. The low cover extent across the continent can be attributed to the anomalously warm conditions that enveloped much of North America, resulting in rapid snow melt. According to Environment Canada, many locations across Ontario, Canada received no snow or traces of snow during March 2010-setting new low snowfall records. Toronto City, which typically receives 22 cm (8.7 inches) of snow during March recorded no snow this year. This broke the low snowfall record which dates as far back as 1898. For information on the U.S. March 2010 snow events, please visit the U.S. 2009-2010 Snow Season Summary page.
Unlike the past four years, the average Eurasian snow cover extent during March 2010 was 1.0 million square kilometers above average, the tenth-largest snow cover extent on record. The 44-year average Eurasian snow cover extent in March is 24.6 million square kilometers for the period of record. The above-average snow cover extent might be attributed to the below-average conditions that engulfed parts of Eurasia. According to Beijing Climate Center (BCC), parts of China had heavy snow and frost during March 2010, resulting in more than 4.8 billion yuan (703 million U.S. dollars) in direct economic losses.
Sea Ice Extent
Arctic sea ice usually expands during the cold season to a March maximum, then contracts during the warm season to a September minimum. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the March 2010 Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent-which is measured from passive microwave instruments onboard NOAA satellites-was 15.1 million square kilometers (4.1 percent or 650,000 square kilometers below the 1979-2000 average), resulting in the fifth least sea ice extent since records began in 1979. This was also the 17th consecutive March with below-average Arctic sea ice extent. The maximum Arctic sea ice extent during March 2010 occurred on March 31st-the latest date for the maximum sea ice extent since records began in 1979. The previous record for latest date was set on March 29, 1999. By March 31st the maximum extent for the year reached 15.2 million square kilometers, which was near the 1979-2000 average levels for this time of the year. The record low sea ice extent for March was set in 2006. March Arctic sea ice extent has decreased at an average rate of 2.6 percent per decade since 1979.
The Antarctic sea ice extent usually expands during the cold season to a September maximum, then contracts during the warm season to a March minimum. Unlike the two previous years which were above average, the March 2010 Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent was 6.9 percent below the 1979-2000 average. This was the eighth least sea ice extent in March. Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent for March has increased at an average rate of 4.0 percent per decade.