Global Analysis - March 2009


Global Highlights:

  • Based on preliminary data, the globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was the tenth warmest on record for March and the eighth warmest January-March year-to-date period.
  • Warmest above-average temperatures during March 2009 were present across Mexico, Europe, most of Asia, South America, and the contiguous United States. Cooler-than-average temperatures occurred across north central and northwestern U.S., southern Canada, southern Alaska, and central Russia.
  • Precipitation during March 2009 was above average across the midwestern and southeastern contiguous U.S., central Europe, and parts of South America and eastern Asia. Drier-than-average conditions were observed in Australia, western Europe, and most of South America.
  • Cold phase El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) (La Niña) conditions were present across the equatorial Pacific Ocean during March 2009.

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The data presented in this report are preliminary. Ranks and anomalies may change as more complete data are received and processed. The most current data may be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

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Introduction

Temperature anomalies for March 2009 are shown on the dot maps below. The dot map on the left provides a spatial representation of anomalies calculated from the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) data set of land surface stations using a 1961-1990 base period. The dot map on the right is a product of a merged land surface and sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly analysis developed by Smith and Reynolds (2005). Temperature anomalies with respect to the 1961-1990 mean for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. Additional information on this product is available.

During March 2009, warmer-than-average temperatures were present across Mexico, Europe, northwestern Africa, eastern Brazil, southern South America, northwestern and southeastern Australia, and most of Asia and the contiguous United States. In contrast, cooler-than-average temperatures occurred throughout southern Canada, southern Alaska, the north central and northwestern U.S., central Russia, and parts of western Australia.

Sea surface temperatures during March 2009 were warmer than average across the northern Indian and western Pacific oceans, and parts of the Atlantic Ocean. Cooler-than-average temperatures were present across the equatorial and northeastern Pacific, the central Atlantic, and southern oceans. Sea surface temperature anomalies in all Niño regions remained below average during March, however some warming took place across the Niño 3.4 and 4 regions. Please see the March 2009 ENSO discussion for additional information.

The January-March 2009 map of temperature anomalies shows the presence of warmer-than-average conditions across much of the land areas of the world, with the exception of cooler-than-average temperatures across parts of Alaska, southern Canada, northern Australia, central and eastern Russia, and northwestern South America. Sea surface temperatures were warmer than average across the North Indian and western Pacific oceans, and parts of the Atlantic Ocean. Cooler-than-average SSTs were present across the equatorial Pacific Ocean, along the western coasts of North America and northwestern Africa, and across most of the southern oceans.

The average position of the upper-level ridges of high pressure and troughs of low pressure (depicted by positive and negative 500-millibar height anomalies on the March 2009 map, respectively) are generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively. For other Global products, please see the Climate Monitoring Global Products page.

Images of sea surface temperature conditions are available for all weeks during 2009 from the weekly SST page.

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Temperature Rankings and Graphics

Current Month / Year-to-date

Effective with the February 2006 report, NCDC transitioned from the use of the Operational Global Surface Temperature Index (Quayle et al. 1999) to the blended land and ocean dataset developed by Smith and Reynolds (2005). The differences between the two methods are discussed in Smith et al. (2005). The ranks found in the tables below are based on records that began in 1880.

March 2009 was the tenth warmest March since global surface records began in 1880 for combined global land and ocean surface temperatures. March land surface temperatures were tenth warmest, while ocean surface temperatures were eighth warmest in the 130-year record. The January-March year-to-date period land and ocean combined temperature was the eighth warmest on record.

March Anomaly Rank
(out of 130 years)
Warmest (or Next
Warmest) Year on Record

Global

Land
Ocean
Land and Ocean

+0.93°C (+1.67°F)
+0.40°C (+0.72°F)
+0.54°C (+0.97°F)

10thwarmest
8th warmest
10th warmest

2008 (+1.90°C/3.42°F)
1998 (+0.51°C/0.92°F)
2002 (+0.75°C/1.35°F)

Northern Hemisphere

Land
Ocean
Land and Ocean


+0.99°C (+1.78°F)
+0.33°C (+0.59°F)
+0.57°C (+1.03°F)


12th warmest
7th warmest
10th warmest


2008 (+2.33°C/4.19°F)
2004 (+0.49°C/0.88°F)
2008 (+1.07°C/1.93°F)

Southern Hemisphere

Land
Ocean
Land and Ocean


+0.75°C (+1.35°F)
+0.46°C (+0.83°F)
+0.50°C (+0.90°F)


4th warmest
6th warmest
5th warmest


1998 (+0.94°C/1.69°F)
2002 (+0.56°C/1.01°F)
1998 (+0.61°C/1.10°F)

January-
March
Anomaly Rank
(out of 130 years)
Warmest (or Next
Warmest) Year on Record

Global

Land
Ocean
Land and Ocean

+0.91°C (+1.64°F)
+0.38°C (+0.68°F)
+0.52°C (+0.94°F)

6th warmest
7th warmest
8th warmest

2002 (+1.52°C/2.74°F)
1998 (+0.53°C/0.95°F)
2002 (+0.74°C/1.33°F)

Northern Hemisphere

Land
Ocean
Land and Ocean


+1.01°C (+1.82°F)
+0.32°C (+0.58°F)
+0.58°C (+1.04°F)


8th warmest
7th warmest
7th warmest


2002 (+1.89°C/3.40°F)
1998 (+0.50°C/0.90°F)
2002 (+0.95°C/1.71°F)

Southern Hemisphere

Land
Ocean
Land and Ocean


+0.60°C (+1.08°F)
+0.44°C (+0.79°F)
+0.46°C (+0.83°F)


6th warmest
7th warmest
8th warmest


1998 (+0.86°C/1.55°F)
1998 (+0.56°C/1.01°F)
1998 (+0.60°C/1.08°F)

The most current data may be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

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Precipitation

The maps below represent anomaly values based on the GHCN data set of land surface stations using a base period of 1961-1990. Precipitation during March 2009 was variable in many areas. Above-average precipitation fell over areas that include the midwestern and southeastern U.S., south central Europe, and parts of eastern Asia. The areas with the driest anomalies included the western Pacific islands, most of Australia and South America.

Notable precipitation extremes during March 2009 included the record flood levels of the Red River in the northern Plains region of the United States. Saturated grounds, along with record snowfall received in March, contributed to the swelling of the Red River. The river crested in Fargo at a record level of 12.4 m (40.8 feet), shattering the previous record of 12.2 m (40.1 feet) set in 1897. The swelling of the river caused major floods along the Minnesota and North Dakota border, forcing nearly 3,500 residents to evacuate the affected areas.

Heavy downpours prompted a 76-year-old dam to burst on March 27 in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, inundating hundreds of homes as residents slept. Ninety-eight fatalities and nearly 100 missing persons were reported. In Papua New Guinea and southeastern Peru, torrential rains triggered deadly landslides, claiming seven and thirteen lives, respectively.

In contrast, Somalia's severe drought intensified during March. Livestock perished due to the extreme conditions and the lack of drinking water prompted many to drink untreated water, which led to sickness and death.

According to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), precipitation across the nation was 56 percent below normal, resulting in the 13th lowest March since records began in 1900. Queensland and the Northern Territory experienced their sixth lowest (70 percent below normal) and ninth lowest (78 percent below normal) March on record (out of 110 years), respectively. It was the driest March since 1991 for both states. A complete March 2009 Australian Climate Summary is available, courtesy of the BoM.

Additional details on flooding and drought can also be found on the March 2009 Global Hazards page.

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ENSO SST Analysis

As shown in the adjacent animation, SST anomalies across the equatorial Pacific remained below average during March 2009. However, the Niño 3.4 and 4 region anomalies showed a slight warming compared to February's anomalies. The Oceanic Niño Index [three-month (January-February-March) running mean] was -0.7°C (-1.3°F), which is below the threshold of -0.5°C (-0.9°F), indicating La Niña conditions. A comprehensive summary of March 2009 ENSO conditions can be found on the ENSO monitoring page. For the latest advisory on ENSO conditions go to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and the CPC ENSO Diagnostic Discussion.

Images of sea surface temperature conditions are available for all weeks since 2003 at the weekly SST page.

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References

Peterson, T.C. and R.S. Vose, 1997: An Overview of the Global Historical Climatology Network Database. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., 78, 2837-2849.

Quayle, R.G., T.C. Peterson, A.N. Basist, and C. S. Godfrey, 1999: An operational near-real-time global temperature index. Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 333-335.

Smith, T.M., and R.W. Reynolds (2005), A global merged land air and sea surface temperature reconstruction based on historical observations (1880-1997), J. Clim., 18, 2021-2036.

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for March 2009, published online April 2009, retrieved on July 30, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2009/3.