Earth, after experiencing its warmest year on record in 2014, has picked up right where it left off in 2015. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today the globe had its warmest first quarter of the year on record in 2015, including its warmest March.
The temperature averaged over the globe in March was 1.53F above the the 20th century average, besting March 2010 by 0.09F, the previous recordholder.
Earth’s average temperature for January through March was 1.48F above the 20th century average, passing the January-March period of 2002, the previous warmest first quarter.
NOAA temperature records date back to 1880.
Independent global temperature analyses from both NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency also found 2015’s first quarter was warmest on record, while March ranked 3rd warmest and warmest on record in the respective datasets.
Coinciding with the elevated temperatures, NOAA reported Arctic sea ice extent was the smallest on record for the month of March (in records dating back to 1979), 7.2 percent below the 1981-2010 average.
During March, record warmth was achieved in parts of the western United States and Canada, and parts of eastern Africa, Scandinavia, northwest Russia, south central China and northeast Australia. In California, the 12 month period ending in March was the warmest on record, a record that has been bested every month, seven times in a row, since September 2014.
Very few land areas witnessed cooler than average temperatures in March, with the only notable pocket in northeast Canada where temperatures were 5F or more below average.
There is a strong chance record or near record warmth will continue over the globe for the remainder of the calendar year. An El Nino event is underway, in which ocean temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific are warmer than normal. These events tend to transport heat around the globe and boost temperature levels.
The National Weather Service favors El Nino continuing into the summer and fall, and some independent forecasters believe it could strengthen into a moderate to strong event – which would result in the transfer of a great deal of heat from the oceans into the global atmosphere.