Last Month Was Hottest March On Record, Continuing Ten-Month Streak Of Global Temperature Records

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Scientists Tuesday confirmed that last month was the hottest March on record, extending a 10-month streak of temperature records following the world’s hottest year and as critical climate tipping points approach.

Global temperatures in March averaged 14.14 degrees Celsius (57.5 degrees Fahrenheit), the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service reported in its monthly bulletin.

It is the hottest March on record, the climate agency said, with global temperatures 1.68C above the average between 1991 and 2020 and a tenth of a degree (0.10C) warmer than the previous record in 2016.

It is the tenth straight month to break the agency’s monthly temperature records, which are based on “billions of measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world.”

Those months are part of the hottest 12-month period ever recorded, Copernicus said, with average temperatures from April 2023 to March 2024 0.70C above the 1991-2020 average.

Copernicus deputy director Samantha Burgess said this March “continues the sequence of climate records toppling for both air temperature and ocean surface temperatures,” adding that “stopping further warming requires rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.’’

Burgess told Reuters it is “the long-term trend with exceptional records that has us very concerned,” adding that “month in, month out – (it) really shows us that our climate is… changing rapidly.”

Land looms large in public discussion of climate change as it’s where changes are more easily observed and where human actions are more readily carried out. But water dominates the planet and oceans cover more than 70% of Earth’s surface. Oceans occupy a key role in how climate and carbon are regulated, absorbing a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions and 90% of excess heat generated by those emissions. Temperatures in water rise much more slowly than they do on land but they are still rising to worrying levels, scientists warn. Global sea surface temperatures for March outside of the poles was 21.07C (69.9F), Copernicus said, “marginally above” the record figure recorded for February. Burgess told AFP such heat is “incredibly unusual.”

While climate change from human actions is the primary driver of rising temperatures in sea and on land, other natural variations like the El Nino weather pattern, which warms surface waters in the eastern Pacific, also contribute to the record highs. Copernicus said the most recent El Nino pattern is now weakening—though marine air temperatures are still “unusually high”—which could mean the record-breaking streak could be nearing its end for the time being. This could still be several months away, however. “Whilst we continue to see so much heat in the surface ocean — so in the sea surface temperatures — I think it’s highly likely” more records will be broken this year, Burgess said, stressing that the warming effect from El Nino is insufficient to explain the soaring temperatures of the past few years.

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