March Madness

NASA has released data for global temperature this March, and it’s a scorcher: the 2nd-hottest temperature anomaly on record, and the hottest March.



It’s easier to see the March 2016 value if we zoom in the time axis; here’s data since 1975:


The latest value is circled in red.

This isn’t just an extremely hot value, it’s one of a string we’ve seen recently. In part, that’s because of the strong el Niño we’ve gone through, which raises global surface temperature. We’ve had strong el Niño events before, but they’ve never brought temperatures even close to what we’re seeing now. That’s because of global warming. When the increased trend of global warming combines with the increased fluctuation due to el Niñowhen worlds collide — that’s when we set records far above what’s been seen, records like we’re seeing now.

It’s because of the string of extremely hot months that we’ve also reached the hottest 12-month running average on record:


Not only is this the hottest March recorded:


It’s also the hottest quarter-year average anomaly on record:


March was indeed a scorcher, but just one of many recently.

Sooner or later, the influence of el Niño will subside. Then temperatures will decline, but they’ll still be way hotter than we saw in the 20th century. The record-breakers will come and go, and come again … but the heat is here to stay. Its effects are here to stay, effects like sea level rise flooding the streets of Miami, extreme heat waves killing thousands and destroying crops, droughts getting more severe and floods getting more severe. We already need to cope with those things, and we’d better be prepared for them to get more and more extreme.

The problems of global warming are already upon us. Things are going to get worse, but in the long term, it’s crucial to do what we can so that we can limit how much worse. What we’re already locked into is bad enough; if we allow the greenhouse problem to go unchecked, nobody knows how terrible it can be. Truth is, nobody wants to know … not by experience.

This blog is made possible by readers like you; join others by donating at Peaseblossom’s Closet.

15 responses to “March Madness

  1. No global warming since Feb 2016 and counting.

    And you can be sure deniers are.

  2. >effects like sea level rise flooding the streets of Miami

    Reading in the ‘climate skeptics’ group on Reddit (and what a doozy of a place that is !),

    this is being blamed on the ‘proven fact’ that moves in the tectonic plates is the reason we’re seeing SLR. I read this group once a month or so to see what memes are current,

    I guess the positive was an acknowledgment of sea level rise :)

    This will not end well.

  3. To put this in perspective: January-March 2015 was not only the hottest first quarter on record, but was at that time the hottest three-month stretch in the GISS data. January-March 2016 was .4 degrees centigrade warmer.

  4. Thanks for this Tamino. I did a quick check and it looks to me that this is the first time since at least the 1950s that there have been six “hottest months” in a row. That is, hottest October, hottest November, … hottest February, hottest March (with GISTemp).

    I think that would mean if you went back to the beginning of the Holocene that it could be 7,000 years or more since that last happened.

    • Chris O'Neill

      back to the beginning of the Holocene

      Indeed. You’d expect these sort of records to be more likely when a sustained warming period is happening such as the ending of the last ice age. Of course, warming is happening much faster now than it was at the ending of the last ice age.

  5. Chris O'Neill

    destroying crops

    Including by crop fire.

    In spite of the wikipedia article calling it a bushfire, it was probably almost entirely a crop fire and its starting location according to the wikipedia article map was in a crop field.

  6. Yes, global temperatures have been hot this Winter, but could have been even hotter..
    It looks like “Big Oil” has taken over the GHCN v3.3 adjusting algoritms and are doing the best to cool the world :-) They are pinpointing two Arctic outpost stations with data that normally gets extrapolated over a large share of the Arctic ocean.

    Here are the two hottest stations in the world, right in the middle of the Arctic area where the reanalyses have had a massive hotspot since November.
    These two stations have anomalies averaging +11 C (from 1981-2010) from November trough March.

    With the new Gistemp station finder
    you can locate those Russian stations (if you go back to October 2015), look at the adjustments (usually they are cooled by 1-2 C), and find that data is completely removed since November 2015:

    This removal has occured recently, the data was there one month ago..
    To hot to be true or to hot to be believed by the algoritms??

  7. Olof – thanks for that arctic station info. Were the reverse true every other story on WUWT for a month would be screaming fraud, scandal, and the hamster parentage of climate scientists :)

  8. March 2016 is the second hottest anomaly on record because it came in a little behind February 2016, do I have that right?

    [Response: Yes.]

  9. Michael Hauber

    Relatively mild in my town for the last year or so. At first I thought maybe I’m getting used to record breaking heat waves and don’t notice them anymore, but some checking of the data suggests that its been mostly average to moderately above average of late and nowhere near some of the more memorable heatwaves I’ve experienced in the last decade. I have noticed that what heat we’ve had has been without any of the typical help such heatwaves get from upper level ridges and desert winds etc, and no doubt my turn will come again soon…..

  10. JMA March anomaly

    0.62C above the 1981 – 2010 monthly average
    2nd warmest month, tied with last month
    December last year is the warmest anomaly on record (0.66C) for that baseline

    1.07C above 20th century monthly average
    Warmest anomaly on record for that baseline

  11. What we’re already locked into is bad enough; if we allow the greenhouse problem to go unchecked, nobody knows how terrible it can be. Truth is, nobody wants to know … not by experience.

    The cognitive dissonance is staggering. Here are two very recent headlines…

    World Bank doubles fossil fuel funding in last four years

    World’s largest Earth science organization to continue accepting ExxonMobil sponsorship despite calls from 250+ geoscientists

    I made the following video a few years ago. The only thing that has changed has been the worsening effects of anthropogenic climate disruption. Hardwired behavior that is the legacy of our Stone Age ancestors cannot be changed overnight nor even over a few generations…