Surface air temperature for March 2019

  • Temperatures over almost all of Europe were warmer in March 2019 than in the 1981-2010 average for the month. They were most above normal over the east of the continent, by more than 3°C in places. It was slightly colder than average over some more northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland.

    photo:ECMWF, Copernicus Climate Change Service;desc: Surface air temperature anomaly for March 2019 relative to the March average for the period 1981-2010. Source: ERA-Interim.;

    Temperatures elsewhere were considerably above average in several regions. This was particularly the case over Alaska and north-western Canada, and over central Siberia, with relatively high values extending over Kazakhstan, Mongolia and north-eastern China. Australia experienced its warmest March on record, with temperatures most above average over the state of Western Australia. Temperatures exceeded average values to a similar extent over much of southern Africa. Temperatures were also several degrees above normal in places around Antarctica, although on the whole there was a mix of regions with above- and below-average temperatures over the continent.

    Temperatures were substantially below average over south-western Canada and the central USA, and over much of Greenland and a region of above-average sea-ice cover to its east. Several other land regions experienced temperatures that were a little below average.

    Although regions of below-average temperature occurred over all major oceans, marine air temperatures were predominantly higher than average. It was especially warm compared with the long-term average over the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand.

    photo:ECMWF, Copernicus Climate Change Service;desc:Surface air temperature anomaly for April 2018 to March 2019 relative to the average for 1981-2010. Source: ERA-Interim.;

    Temperatures averaged over the twelve-month period from April 2018 to March 2019 were:

    • much above the 1981-2010 average in the Arctic, peaking near Svalbard and over and bordering the Bering and Chukchi seas;
    • above average over almost all of Europe;
    • above average over other areas of land and ocean, especially so over central northern Siberia, Mongolia and north-eastern China, the Middle East, Australia, southern Africa and some parts of the Antarctic;
    • below average over several land and oceanic areas, including much of Canada and Greenland, parts of the North Atlantic and South Pacific, and other parts of the Antarctic.

    photo: ECMWF, Copernicus Climate Change Service;desc:Monthly global-mean and European-mean surface air temperature anomalies relative to 1981-2010, from January 1979 to March 2019. The darker coloured bars denote the March values. Source: ERA-Interim.;

    The global temperature was substantially above average in March 2019. The month was:

    • 0.67°C warmer than the average March from 1981-2010;
    • within 0.01°C of the temperature of March 2017, the second warmest March in this data record;
    • about 0.11°C cooler than March 2016, the warmest March on record.

    The largest anomalies in European-average temperatures occur in wintertime, when values can vary substantially from month to month. March 2019 had a European-average temperature 1.7°C above normal. In contrast, March 2018 had an average temperature almost 1.6°C below normal.

    photo: ECMWF, Copernicus Climate Change Service;desc: Running twelve-month averages of global-mean and European-mean surface air temperature anomalies relative to 1981-2010, based on monthly values from January 1979 to March 2019. The darker coloured bars are the averages for each of the calendar years from 1979 to 2018. Source: ERA-Interim.;

    Averaging over twelve-month periods smooths out the shorter-term variations. Globally, the twelve-month period from April 2018 to March 2019 was 0.45°C warmer than the 1981-2010 average. The warmest twelve-month period was from October 2015 to September 2016, with a temperature 0.64°C above average. 2016 is the warmest calendar year on record, with a global temperature 0.62°C above that for 1981-2010. The second warmest calendar year, 2017, had a temperature 0.53°C above average. The third warmest year, 2015, was warmer than 2018 by an insignificant margin: its temperature, like that of 2018, rounds to 0.43°C above the 1981-2010 average.

    0.63°C should be added to these values to relate recent global temperatures to the pre-industrial level defined in the IPCC Special Report on “Global Warming of 1.5°C”. Monthly temperatures over the past twelve months have been mostly in the range from 1.0 to 1.1°C above this pre-industrial level, but March 2019 reached 1.3°C.

    The spread in the global averages from various temperature datasets has been unusually large over the past two years or so. During this period the twelve-month average values presented here are higher than those from several independent datasets, by between 0.05°C and 0.15°C for the twelve months for which spread is largest. This is due partly to differences in the extent to which datasets represent the relatively warm conditions that have predominated over the Arctic and the seas around Antarctica. Differences in estimates both of sea-surface temperature elsewhere and of temperatures over land outside the Arctic have been further factors. There is nevertheless general agreement between datasets regarding:

    • the exceptional warmth of 2016, and to a lesser extent 2015, 2017 and 2018;
    • the overall rate of warming since the late 1970s;
    • the sustained period of above-average temperatures from 2001 onwards.

    There is more variability in average European temperatures, but values are less uncertain because observational coverage of the continent is relatively dense. Twelve-month averages for Europe were at a high level from 2014 to 2016. They then fell, but remained 0.5°C or more above the 1981-2010 average. Twelve-month averages have risen since then. The latest average, for the period from April 2018 to March 2019, is more than 1.5°C above the 1981-2010 norm. It slightly exceeds the value for the twelve-month period from July 2006 to June 2007, making the past twelve months the warmest twelve-month period on record for Europe.

    The average surface air temperature analysis homepage explains more about the production and reliability of the values presented here.

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