Another Month, Another Temperature Record: March 2016 Was The Hottest March Ever

The northern hemisphere is warming much faster than most other regions. NASA

And we’ve done it again, breaking another global monthly temperature record. Depressingly, there isn’t much left to say on this now, except that data released by both NASA and the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) has confirmed that March 2016 was the hottest March ever recorded.

This pushes us closer and closer to that 2°C (3.6°F) of warming that scientists and researchers have warned could well be the tipping point. With the string of monthly records broken so far, though – 11 in a row to date – some suggest that it might already be too late.

The JMA report that March was not only the hottest March on record, but that it broke the record by the largest margin, just like February and January did before it. Their figures show that the month was 1.07°C (1.9°F) hotter than the global average for that month calculated from 1891. While the data from NASA confirms that March was the warmest on record, it deviates slightly in that while they recorded March as being 1.65°C (2.97°F) above the 1965 to 1980 average, it was still beaten by the previous month as the record February was 1.71°C (3.1°F) higher.

With this continual creep in global temperatures, the impacts have been felt around the globe. The Arctic this year saw the lowest wintertime extent of sea ice, leading many scientists to worry what will be seen come summer when temperatures increase even more. Glaciers in Greenland have begun melting a full month earlier than usual, and not only that but at a rate more similar to what would be expected for July.

Go to the other hemisphere, and the Great Barrier Reef is facing one of the worst bleaching events ever recorded. An estimated 95 percent of coral found between Papua New Guinea and Cairns, Australia, is thought to have experienced some bleaching, which is the result of a warming ocean.

While, yes, some of the warming can be attributed to a potentially record-breaking El Niño, many agree we would have seen the continual rising of temperatures without its added input. In addition to that, the weather system is also simply releasing all the energy that has been stored in the ocean depths over the past few decades, again as a result of the continual output of carbon into the atmosphere.

The release of the latest batch of data on our ever-heating climate comes just days before 130 leaders are expected to gather at the United Nations on April 22 to sign the Paris Climate agreement. This will bind the signatories to their promise to keep global warming below the 2°C (3.6°F) limit, and endeavour to keep it at 1.5°C (2.7°F).

Already, both China and the U.S., two of the biggest carbon-emitting nations, have said that they will sign the agreement, setting the stage for more countries to follow suit. In fact, China and the U.S. are even leading the push to implement the Paris deal well before the official deadline of 2020, possibly as early as 2016 or 2017. 

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