Global Analysis - March 2012


Contents of this Section:


March 2012 Selected Climate Anomalies and Events MapMarch 2012 Selected Climate
Anomalies and Events Map

Global Highlights

  • The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for March 2012 was the 16th warmest on record at 13.16°C (55.73°F), which is 0.46°C (0.83°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F). The margin of error associated with this temperature is ± 0.07°C (0.13°F). March 2012 is the coolest March since 1999. However, it also marks the 36th consecutive March and 325th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last March with below-average temperature was March 1976 and the last month with below-average temperature was February 1985.
  • Separately, the global land surface temperature was 0.73°C (1.31°F) above the 20th century average of 5.0°C (40.8°F), making this the 18th warmest March on record. The margin of error is ± 0.13°C (0.23°F). Warmer-than-average conditions occurred across nearly all of Canada, the contiguous United States, Mexico, Europe, Argentina, Peru, and parts of northern and central Russia, India, China, and eastern Brazil. Cooler-than-average regions included Alaska, Australia, eastern and western Russia, and parts of New Zealand.
  • Separately, the global land surface temperature was 0.73°C (1.31°F) above the 20th century average of 5.0°C (40.8°F), making this the 18th warmest March on record. The margin of error is ± 0.13°C (0.23°F).
  • The March global ocean surface temperature was 0.35°C (0.63°F) above the 20th century average of 15.9°C (60.7°F), tying with 1988 and 1990 as the 14th warmest March on record. The margin of error is ± 0.04°C (0.07°F). The warmth was most pronounced across the north central Pacific Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean, much of the eastern Indian Ocean, and portions of the mid-latitude Southern oceans.
  • The March global ocean surface temperature was 0.35°C (0.63°F) above the 20th century average of 15.9°C (60.7°F), tying with 1988 and 1990 as the 14th warmest March on record. The margin of error is ± 0.04°C (0.07°F).
  • The average Arctic sea ice extent during March 2012 was 3.4 percent below average, ranking as the ninth smalleset March extent since satellite records began in 1979. This is the largest March Arctic sea ice extent since 2008, and one of the largest March extents of the past decade.
  • On the opposite pole, Antarctic sea ice during March was 16.0 percent above average, and the fourth largest sea ice extent on record for the Southern Hemisphere since records began in 1979.
  • Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during March 2012 was near the long-term average, with variability between North America and Eurasia. The North American snow cover extent was much below average, and ranked as the fourth smallest March snow extent on record. Eurasian snow cover extent for March was 1.1 million square kilometer above average—the ninth largest March snow extent.
  • Precipitation was variable across the globe during March 2012. Dryness prevailed across much of Europe during March. Germany reported its third driest March since national records began in 1881 and Spain reported its driest March since 1997. Other areas that had significant below-average precipitation included eastern Brazil, the eastern United States, southern South America, and parts of western and southeastern Africa and southern and southeastern Asia. Rainfall was much heavier across Australia, resulting in the fourth wettest March in the nations 113-year record. This rainfall was associated in part with La Niña.

==global-temps-errata==

Introduction

The data presented in this report are preliminary. Ranks and anomalies may change as more complete data are received and processed.

Temperature anomalies for March 2012 and January–March 2012 are shown on the dot maps in the following section. The dot maps on the left provide a spatial representation of anomalies calculated from the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) version 3.1.0 dataset of land surface stations using a 1961–1990 base period. The dot maps on the right are a product of a merged land surface and sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly analysis developed by Smith et al. (2008). For the merged land surface and SST analysis, temperature anomalies with respect to the 1971–2000 average for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCDC's Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.


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Temperatures

In the atmosphere, 500-millibar height pressure anomalies correlate well with temperatures at the Earth's surface. 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 2012 height and anomaly mapMarch 2012 map—is generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively.

March

The land surface temperatures across the globe were either extremely warm or cool during March 2012, particularly across the Northern Hemisphere's middle and higher-latitudes. The most notable warmer-than-average land surface temperatures were observed across most of Canada, the contiguous United States, Mexico, Argentina, Europe, and parts of northern and central Russia. Meanwhile, cooler-than-average temperatures were observed across parts of the globe as well, with the most notable anomalies across most of Australia, Alaska, and western and eastern Russia. When averaging the global land-only surface temperatures, March 2012 was 0.73°C (1.31°F) above the 20th century average of 5°C (40.8°F)—the coolest land-only March temperature anomaly since 2003 and the 18th warmest March in the 133-year record. Several national highlights are found below:

  • The contiguous United States had an mean temperature of 10.6°C (51.1°F) in March 2012, which was 4.8°C (8.6°F) above the 20th century average, marking the warmest March since national records began in 1895. Please visit NCDC's National State of the Climate report for additional information.

  • According to the United Kingdom (UK) Met Office, the UK recorded a mean temperature anomaly of 2.5°C (4.5°F) above the 1971–2000 average—the warmest March since 1957 and the third warmest March since national records began in 1910. Separately, the countries that compose the United Kingdom experienced their top four warmest March on record. England had its third warmest March, Wales had its second warmest, Scotland had its warmest (tied with 1938), and Northern Ireland had its fourth warmest March in the 103-year record.

  • Spain experienced warmer-than-average temperatures during March 2012. According to Spain's National Agency of Meteorology (Agencia Estatal de Meteorología), the March 2012 national mean temperature was 11.6°C (52.9°F), which was 1.0°C (1.8°F) above the 1971–2000 average.

  • Denmark reported a mean temperature of 5.7°C (42.3°F) during March 2012, which is 3.6°C (6.5°F) above the 1961–1990 average. According to Denmark's Meteorological Institute (Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut), March 2012 ranked as the fourth warmest March since national records began in 1874. The years 1990 and 2007 (6.1°C/11.0°F) tied as the warmest March on record for Denmark and 1938 (6.0°C/10.8°F) ranked as third warmest March on record.

  • Norway as a whole had its warmest March since national records began in 1900, according to Norway's Institute of Meteorology (Meteorologisk Institutt). March 2012 temperature anomaly was 4.3°C (7.7°F) above average.

  • Austria recorded a temperature anomaly of 2.8°C (5.0°F) above average. This was the third warmest March since national records began in 1767, according to Austria's Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG).

  • Warmer-than-average temperatures plagued Finland during March 2012. According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Finland's mean temperature was -3.0°C (26.6°F), which is 1.9°C (3.4°F) above average. On March 22nd, the Aland Islands recorded a maximum temperature of 15.8°C (60.4°F), the fourth highest March temperature in the past 50 years in the nation, behind March dates in 1990, 2002, and 2007.

  • According to Germany's Weather Service (Deutscher Wetterdienst), Germany as a whole had a mean March temperature of 6.9°C (44.4°F), which is 3.4°C (6.1°F) above the 1961–1990 average—the third warmest March since national records began in 1881, behind 1989 and 1938.

  • Australia experienced below-average maximum and minimum temperatures during March 2012. The national maximum temperature was 1.6°C (2.9 °F) below the 1961–1990 average and the third coolest March since national temperature records began in 1950. Meanwhile, the national minimum temperature for March 2012 was 0.8°C (1.4°F) below average—the eleventh coolest since national records began and the coolest since 1997. According to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, all Australian states experienced below-average maximum and minimum temperatures, with the exception of Tasmania which experienced above-average temperatures. New South Wales recorded a maximum temperature anomaly of -2.0°C (-3.6°F), resulting in the fourth coolest March in the 63-year record.

  • In Antarctica, the South Pole station reported above-average temperatures during March 2012, with an average temperature of -51.2°C (-60.2°F), which is 2.8°C (5.0°F) above average. On March 8th, a new daily maximum temperature record was set when temperatures soared to -32.3°C (-26.1°F), surpassing the previous record of -33.9°C (-29.0°F) set in 1965.

A snapshot of global ocean temperatures during March 2012 indicate that warmer-than-average temperatures were observed across the North Atlantic, north-central Pacific Ocean, and across the mid-latitude southern oceans. Meanwhile, cooler-than-average conditions were present across the northeastern and central Pacific Ocean, parts of southern Atlantic Ocean, and across the higher-latitudes of the southern oceans. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is a periodic fluctuation in sea surface temperature (El Niño) and the air pressure of the overlying atmosphere (Southern Oscillation) across the equatorial Pacific Ocean, persisted in a cold phase (La Niña) during March 2012. However, the La Niña weakened during the month as sea surface temperatures across all Niño regions warmed during the last two months. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC), La Niña is expected to transition to neutral conditions during April 2012. The globally-averaged ocean temperature during March 2012 was 0.35°C (0.63°F) above the 20th century average of 15.9°C (60.7°F), tying with 1988 and 1990 as the 14th warmest March since records began in 1880. This was also the coolest March ocean anomaly since 2008.

Averaging the global land and ocean as a whole, the combined land and ocean surface temperature during March 2012 was 0.46°C (0.83°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F), resulting in the coolest March temperature since 1999 and ranking as the 16th warmest March since records began in 1880.

March Anomaly Rank
(out of 133 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +0.73 ± 0.13 +1.31 ± 0.23 Warmest 18th 2008 +1.85 +3.33
Coolest 116th 1898 -1.54 -2.77
Ocean +0.35 ± 0.04 +0.63 ± 0.07 Warmest 14th 1998 +0.56 +1.01
Coolest 120th 1911 -0.53 -0.95
Ties: 1988, 1990
Land and Ocean +0.46 ± 0.07 +0.83 ± 0.13 Warmest 16th 2010 +0.78 +1.40
Coolest 118th 1898 -0.64 -1.15
Northern Hemisphere
Land +0.89 ± 0.17 +1.60 ± 0.31 Warmest 16th 2008 +2.35 +4.23
Coolest 118th 1898 -1.93 -3.47
Ocean +0.29 ± 0.05 +0.52 ± 0.09 Warmest 18th 2010 +0.53 +0.95
Coolest 116th 1908 -0.51 -0.92
Ties: 1988, 2008
Land and Ocean +0.52 ± 0.09 +0.94 ± 0.16 Warmest 17th 2008 +1.08 +1.94
Coolest 117th 1898 -0.86 -1.55
Southern Hemisphere
Land +0.32 ± 0.13 +0.58 ± 0.23 Warmest 27th 2010 +1.11 +2.00
Coolest 107th 1917 -0.87 -1.57
Ties: 1952
Ocean +0.41 ± 0.04 +0.74 ± 0.07 Warmest 13th 1998 +0.61 +1.10
Coolest 121st 1911 -0.57 -1.03
Ties: 1988
Land and Ocean +0.40 ± 0.07 +0.72 ± 0.13 Warmest 17th 1998 +0.67 +1.21
Coolest 117th 1911 -0.58 -1.04
Ties: 1990

Year-to-date (January–March)

The January–March map of temperature anomalies shows that warmer-than-average temperatures occurred across the contiguous United States, Canada, Mexico, southern South America, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, northern Russia, and parts of southeastern Asia. Cooler-than-average conditions were observed across Alaska, northern Africa, central Asia, eastern Russia, and most of Australia.

The globally-averaged land and ocean temperature for January–March 2012 was 0.39°C (0.70°F) above the 20th century average of 12.3°C (54.1°F), the coolest such period since 1996 and tying with 1991 as the 21st warmest such period in the 133-year record. The land-only global average temperature was also the coolest since 1996 with an anomaly of 0.53°C (0.95°F) above the 20th century average of 3.7°C (38.5°F), ranking as the 27th warmest such period. Meanwhile, the global ocean temperature tied with 1995 as the 14th warmest such period, with an anomaly of 0.34°C (0.61°F) above the 20th century average of 15.9°C (60.6°F)—the coolest January–March anomaly since 2008.

  • The contiguous United States mean temperature during January–March 2012 was 5.6°C (42.0°F), which is 3.3°C (6.0°F) above the 20th century average. The first three months of the year ranked as the warmest such period since national records began in 1895. Please visit NCDC's National State of the Climate report for additional information.

  • According to Norway's Institute of Meteorology (Meteorologisk Institutt), the January–March 2012 temperature for the country as a whole was 2.4°C (4.3°F) above average, ranking as the 15th warmest such period since national records began. Across Norway, the largest positive anomaly during the first three months of the year were observed across eastern Norway which recorded anomalies as high as 3–4°C (5–7°F).

January–March Anomaly Rank
(out of 133 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +0.53 ± 0.22 +0.95 ± 0.40 Warmest 27th 2002 +1.47 +2.65
Coolest 107th 1893 -1.24 -2.23
Ocean +0.34 ± 0.04 +0.61 ± 0.07 Warmest 14th 1998 +0.56 +1.01
Coolest 120th 1911 -0.50 -0.90
Ties: 1995
Land and Ocean +0.39 ± 0.09 +0.70 ± 0.16 Warmest 21st 2002 +0.74 +1.33
Coolest 113rd 1893, 1911 -0.54 -0.97
Ties: 1991
Northern Hemisphere
Land +0.56 ± 0.26 +1.01 ± 0.47 Warmest 26th 2002 +1.87 +3.37
Coolest 108th 1893 -1.52 -2.74
Ocean +0.31 ± 0.05 +0.56 ± 0.09 Warmest 13th 2010 +0.54 +0.97
Coolest 121st 1904 -0.47 -0.85
Land and Ocean +0.41 ± 0.13 +0.74 ± 0.23 Warmest 21st 2002 +0.97 +1.75
Coolest 113rd 1893 -0.83 -1.49
Southern Hemisphere
Land +0.44 ± 0.13 +0.79 ± 0.23 Warmest 20th 2010 +1.02 +1.84
Coolest 114th 1904 -0.83 -1.49
Ties: 2002
Ocean +0.37 ± 0.04 +0.67 ± 0.07 Warmest 15th 1998 +0.59 +1.06
Coolest 119th 1911 -0.53 -0.95
Ties: 1980, 1995
Land and Ocean +0.39 ± 0.07 +0.70 ± 0.13 Warmest 16th 1998, 2010 +0.64 +1.15
Coolest 118th 1911 -0.54 -0.97
Ties: 1980, 1992

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 version 2 dataset of land surface stations using a base period of 1961–1990. During March 2012, above-average precipitation fell over areas that included Australia, the southern and northwestern United States, and parts of northern Brazil and eastern Asia. Drier-than-average conditions were present across Argentina, the eastern United States, eastern Brazil, most of Europe and parts of southeastern Asia, and western and southeastern Africa.

  • According to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, Australia experienced wetter-than-average conditions across most of the nation. Averaged as a whole, the continent received a total of 108.7 mm (4.3 inches), which is 77 percent above the 1961–1990 average precipitation and the fourth wettest March in the nation's 113-year precipitation record. The state of Victoria had its wettest March since 1950 and the fourth wettest March on record, with 103.5 mm (4.1 inches) (152 percent above average). New South Wales had its second wettest March, with 119.6 mm (4.8 inches) (144 percent above average). The wettest March on record for the state of New South Wales was set in 1956 when a total of 155.31 mm (6.2 inches) of precipitation fell throughout the month.

  • The United Kingdom received a total of 36.4 mm (1.5 inches) of precipitation during March 2012. This was the driest March since 1953 and the fifth driest since national records began in 1910, according to the United Kingdom (UK) Met Office.

  • According to Spain's National Agency of Meteorology (Agencia Estatal de Meteorología), Spain experienced drier-than-average conditions during March 2012, receiving 24 mm (1 inch) across the nation—half of the nation's 1971–2000 average. This resulted in the driest March since 1997.

  • According to Germany's Weather Service (Deutscher Wetterdienst), the nation received a total of 14.9 mm (0.6 inch) of precipitation during March 2012. This was 41.7 mm (1.7 inches) or 73.7 percent below the 1961–1990 average. March 2012 ranked as the third driest March since national records began in 1881, behind 1929 and 1953.

  • According to Norway's Institute of Meteorology (Meteorologisk Institutt), Norway had 155 percent of normal precipitation during March 2012, resulting in its ninth wettest March since national records began in 1900.

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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.

Smith, et al (2008), Improvements to NOAA's Historical Merged Land-Ocean Surface Temperature Analysis (1880-2006), J. Climate., 21, 2283-2293.

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for March 2012, published online April 2012, retrieved on April 16, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2012/3.