Global Climate Report - March 2019

Maps and Time Series

Temperature and Precipitation Maps

Temperature Anomalies Time Series


Introduction

Temperature anomalies and percentiles are shown on the gridded maps below. The anomaly map on the left is a product of a merged land surface temperature (Global Historical Climatology Network, GHCN) and sea surface temperature (ERSST.v4) anomaly analysis as described in Huang et al. (2016). Temperature anomalies for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCEI's Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page. The percentile map on the right provides additional information by placing the temperature anomaly observed for a specific place and time period into historical perspective, showing how the most current month, season or year compares with the past.


Temperature

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 2019 height and anomaly mapMarch 2019 map—is generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies, respectively, at the surface.

March Temperature

Globally, this was the second warmest March in the 140-year record, with a temperature departure from average at +1.06°C (+1.91°F). Only March 2016 was warmer at +1.24°C (+2.23°F). March 2019 also marks the third time (2016, 2017, and 2019) that the March global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average surpasses 1.0°C (1.8°F). The March 2019 global land and ocean temperature tied with January 2016 as the fifth highest monthly temperature departure from average for any month on record (1671 months). The 20 highest monthly temperature departures from average have all occurred since 2015, with March 2016 having the highest monthly temperature departure in the 1671-month record at +1.24°C (+2.23°F).

March 2019 was characterized by unusually warm conditions across much of the world's land and ocean surface. The most notable warm temperature departures from average were present across Alaska, northwestern Canada, and north-central Asia, where temperatures were at least 4.0°C (7.2°F) higher than the 1981–2010 average. Across the Southern Hemisphere, Australia and southern Africa had temperatures that were at least 1.5°C (2.7°F) above average. Record warm temperatures were present across much of Alaska, northwestern Canada and across parts of the Barents, East China, and Tasman seas, western Europe, central Russia, southern Australia, southern Atlantic and western Indian oceans, and southern Africa. Cooler-than-average March temperatures were present across parts of the contiguous U.S., southern South America, the Middle East, southern Asia, northern Africa, and across parts of the northern, central, and southern Atlantic Ocean, northern and eastern Pacific Ocean, and northern and eastern Indian Ocean. The most significant cool temperatures departures from average were limited to the northern contiguous U.S., where temperatures were 3.0°C (5.4°F) below average or cooler. However, no land or ocean surfaces had a record cold March temperature.

Although the magnitude of the ocean's surface temperature departures from average tend to be smaller than those from the land surface, averaged as a whole, the global ocean-only surface temperature was also the second highest on record for March at 0.73°C (1.31°F) above the 20th century average, trailing behind the record year 2016 (+0.82°C / +1.48°F). The global land-only surface temperature was 1.92°C (3.46°F) above the 20th century average—also the second warmest March on record, following behind 2016 (+2.39°C / +4.30°F).

Regionally, Oceania had its second highest March temperature since continental records began in 1910 at +1.76°C (+3.17°F). This value falls behind the record year 2016 by 0.10°C (0.18°F). Europe, Africa, the Caribbean Region, and Asia had a March temperature that ranked among the nine warmest Marchs on record. Meanwhile, South America had its least warm March since 2014.

Select national information is highlighted below. Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data:

  • Alaska had its warmest March since statewide records began in 1925, with a mean temperature that was 8.8°C (15.9°F) above the 1925–2000 base period, surpassing the previous record set in 1965 by +2.1°C (+3.7°F).
  • Spain's nationally-averaged maximum temperature for March 2019 was the highest of the 21st century at 1.8°C (3.2°F) above the 1981–2010 average. This value is 0.4°C (0.7°F) higher than the previous record set in 2012. Meanwhile, Spain's minimum temperature was 0.5°C (0.9°F) below average. The above-average maximum temperature in combination with below-average minimum temperature resulted in a remarkable diurnal mean thermal oscillation which was 2.3°C (4.1°F) higher than average. The March 2019 mean temperature for Spain was 0.7°C (1.3°F) above average.
  • Warmer-than-average temperatures were present across much of Germany during March 2019. The nationally-averaged March temperature was 6.6°C (43.9°F) or 2.3°C (4.1°F) above the 1981–2010 average. This value ranked as Germany's eighth highest March temperature since national records began in 1881.
  • Hong Kong had its fourth highest March temperature at 21.0°C (69.8°F), which is 1.9°C (3.4°F) above average. The minimum temperature for Hong Kong was also warmer than average at 19.1°C (66.4°F) or 2.2°C (4.0°F) above average and the third highest on record.
  • New Zealand's March 2019 temperature was 17.6°C (63.7°F), which is 1.9°C (3.4°F) above the 1981–2010 average. This value tied with 1999 as the second highest March temperature on record. According to NIWA, New Zealand hasn't experienced a below-average monthly temperature since January 2017. Many stations across New Zealand had record or near-record March temperatures. Of note, Ranfurly (located in the South Island) had a mean maximum temperature of 23.4°C (74.1°F) or 4.0°C (7.2°F) above average—the highest mean maximum temperature for Ranfurly since records began in 1897.
  • Australia's nationally-averaged mean temperature for March 2019 was the highest on record at 2.13°C (3.83°F) above the 1961–1990 average. This value exceeded the previous record by 0.26°C (0.47°F) set in 2016. The nation's maximum and minimum temperatures were the second highest on record March temperature at +2.35°C (+4.23°F) and +1.90°C (+3.42°F), respectively. The warmest maximum temperature was set in 1986 (+2.53°C / +4.55°F); the warmest minimum temperature was set in 2016 (+2.11°C / +3.80°F). Regionally, Western Australia and Northern Territory also had their highest mean temperature on record for March. Several stations set new records for the highest number of consecutive days with temperatures at least 39.0°C (102.2°F). Of note, Rabbit Flat in the Northern Territory had a total of 115 consecutive days (1 December 2018–25 March 2019) with temperatures at least 39.0°C (102.2°F)—surpassing the previous record of 106 consecutive days (9 November 1921–22 February 1922) set in Marble Bar in Western Australia.

El Niño persisted across the tropical Pacific Ocean during March 2019. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, El Niño is likely (~65% chance) to continue through the Northern Hemisphere summer (Southern Hemisphere winter). This forecast focuses on the ocean surface temperatures between 5°N and 5°S latitude and 170°W to 120°W longitude, called the Niño 3.4 region.

March Anomaly Rank
(out of 140 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +1.92 ± 0.11 +3.46 ± 0.20 Warmest 2nd 2016 +2.39 +4.30
Coolest 139th 1898 -1.57 -2.83
Ocean +0.73 ± 0.14 +1.31 ± 0.25 Warmest 2nd 2016 +0.82 +1.48
Coolest 139th 1911 -0.50 -0.90
Land and Ocean +1.06 ± 0.14 +1.91 ± 0.25 Warmest 2nd 2016 +1.24 +2.23
Coolest 139th 1898 -0.65 -1.17
Northern Hemisphere
Land +2.17 ± 0.20 +3.91 ± 0.36 Warmest 3rd 2016 +2.75 +4.95
Coolest 138th 1898 -1.95 -3.51
Ties: 2017
Ocean +0.74 ± 0.13 +1.33 ± 0.23 Warmest 2nd 2016 +0.82 +1.48
Coolest 139th 1909 -0.51 -0.92
Ties: 2017
Land and Ocean +1.28 ± 0.13 +2.30 ± 0.23 Warmest 2nd 2016 +1.55 +2.79
Coolest 139th 1898 -0.87 -1.57
Ties: 2017
Southern Hemisphere
Land +1.27 ± 0.12 +2.29 ± 0.22 Warmest 2nd 2016 +1.44 +2.59
Coolest 139th 1904 -0.93 -1.67
Ocean +0.73 ± 0.15 +1.31 ± 0.27 Warmest 2nd 2016 +0.83 +1.49
Coolest 139th 1911 -0.56 -1.01
Land and Ocean +0.81 ± 0.14 +1.46 ± 0.25 Warmest 2nd 2016 +0.92 +1.66
Coolest 139th 1911 -0.58 -1.04

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

Year-to-date Temperature

The global land and ocean surface temperature for the first three months of the year was 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th century average and the third highest January–March period since global records began in 1880. Only 2016 (+1.17°C / +2.11°F) and 2017 (+0.98°C / +1.76°F) were warmer. The three-month period was characterized by warmer-than-average temperatures across much of the world's land and ocean surfaces. The most notable warm temperature departures from average were present across Australia, southwestern and north-central Asia, as well as Alaska and northwestern Canada. The January–March 2019 temperatures across these regions were 2.5°C (4.5°F) above average or higher. Record warm January–March temperatures were observed across Australia, the Tasman, Barents, and East China seas, southern Brazil, northern Alaska, northwestern Canada, as well as scattered across all southern oceans, Africa, and Asia. Cooler-than-average conditions were present across the northern and western contiguous U.S., much of Canada, southern Asia, Argentina, northern Africa, the northern Atlantic Ocean, eastern Indian Ocean and the southern ocean off the Patagonia's southern coast. No land or ocean areas had record-cold January–March temperatures.

The global land-only temperature was 1.47°C (2.65°F) above average and the fifth highest January–March temperature in the 140-year record. The global ocean-only temperature tied with 2017 as the second highest for the three-month period at 0.69°C (1.24°F) above average, trailing behind 2016 (+0.83°C / +1.49°F).

Regionally, Oceania had its warmest January–March period on record at 1.68°C (3.02°F) above average for the 1910–2010 period, surpassing the previous record set in 2016 by 0.37°C (0.67°F). The four warmest January–March periods on record for Oceania have occurred during the last four years (2016–2019). South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean region had January–March temperatures that ranked among their nine warmest such period on record. Meanwhile, North America and the Hawaiian region had their coolest such period since 2014 and 2013, respectively.

Select national information is highlighted below. Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data:

  • The January–March 2019 mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures for Hong Kong were the highest on record at 19.7°C (67.5°F), 22.1°C (71.8°F), and 18.1°C (64.6°F), respectively.
  • According to Météo France, Reunion had its highest January–March temperature since records began in 1969 at 1.2°C (2.2°F) above the 1981–2010 average, exceeding the previous record set in 2017 by 0.4°C (0.7°F). This was also the first time that the January–March temperature was above 1.0°C (1.8°F). January–March 2019 also marks the 11th consecutive year with year-to-date temperatures above average.
January–March Anomaly Rank
(out of 140 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +1.47 ± 0.16 +2.65 ± 0.29 Warmest 5th 2016 +2.11 +3.80
Coolest 136th 1893 -1.27 -2.29
Ocean +0.69 ± 0.15 +1.24 ± 0.27 Warmest 2nd 2016 +0.83 +1.49
Coolest 139th 1911 -0.48 -0.86
Ties: 2017
Land and Ocean +0.90 ± 0.15 +1.62 ± 0.27 Warmest 3rd 2016 +1.17 +2.11
Coolest 138th 1911 -0.54 -0.97
Northern Hemisphere
Land +1.55 ± 0.22 +2.79 ± 0.40 Warmest 6th 2016 +2.40 +4.32
Coolest 135th 1893 -1.56 -2.81
Ocean +0.71 ± 0.15 +1.28 ± 0.27 Warmest 3rd 2016 +0.89 +1.60
Coolest 138th 1909 -0.46 -0.83
Land and Ocean +1.03 ± 0.16 +1.85 ± 0.29 Warmest 4th 2016 +1.46 +2.63
Coolest 137th 1893 -0.85 -1.53
Southern Hemisphere
Land +1.27 ± 0.13 +2.29 ± 0.23 Warmest 2nd 2016 +1.35 +2.43
Coolest 139th 1904 -0.96 -1.73
Ocean +0.67 ± 0.16 +1.21 ± 0.29 Warmest 2nd 2016 +0.80 +1.44
Coolest 139th 1911 -0.51 -0.92
Ties: 2017
Land and Ocean +0.77 ± 0.15 +1.39 ± 0.27 Warmest 2nd 2016 +0.88 +1.58
Coolest 139th 1911 -0.54 -0.97

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

Precipitation

March Precipitation

The maps below represent precipitation percent of normal (left, using a base period of 1961–90) and precipitation percentiles (right, using the period of record) based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations. As is typical, precipitation anomalies varied significantly around the world. Precipitation during March 2019 was generally drier than normal across Hawaii, south-central Alaska, western Canada, the eastern contiguous U.S., parts of South America, southern Europe, central and southern parts of Asia, parts of southern Africa, and western and southern Australia. Wetter-than-normal conditions were notable across the central and western contiguous U.S., parts of Brazil, Paraguay, parts of Argentina, northern Europe, parts of Russia, southern China, and eastern Australia.

Select national information is highlighted below. (Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data):

  • Drier-than-average conditions were present across much of Spain during March 2019, with a nationally-average precipitation total of 26 mm or 55% of average. This was the second driest March in the 21st century, behind 2012. Snow reserve data depicts that accumulated snow at the end of the month was similar to that of June 2017.
  • March 2019 was Denmark's wettest March since national records began in 1874, with a nationally-average precipitation total of 106 mm (4.2 inches).
  • Western Iran had unprecedented rainfall during 17–31 March, setting new daily precipitation records at eight stations. Of note, the Koohrang station in the Chahar Mahal-Bakhtiari province had a total daily rainfall of 187.8 mm (7.4 inches). According to the Islamic Republic of Iran Meteorological Organization, 28% of the nation's annual rainfall total was received during the last two weeks of March. Several provinces in western Iran had received 30–60% of their annual total during this time. The heavy rain led to floods in the region and nearly 70 fatalities were directly or indirectly related to the severe weather conditions.
  • Tropical cyclone Idai, which formed in the Mozambique Channel on March 4, reached its maximum sustained winds of 205 km h-1 on March 14, equivalent to a Category 3 tropical cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. However, it decreased in intensity to an equivalent Category 2 tropical cyclone before making landfall in central Mozambique on March 15. During Idai's lifespan, it brought strong winds and torrential rains to Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. Over 3 million people in eastern Africa were affected and over 1070 people died due to the severe weather conditions. According to reports, Idai is the second deadliest tropical cyclone in the South-west Indian Ocean basin, behind an unnamed tropical cyclone in 1892 (1200 fatalities). Total damages caused by the storm are estimated to be at least 1 billion U.S. dollars—one of the costliest tropical cyclones in the South-west Indian Ocean basin.
  • Torrential rain fell across parts of the Brazilian state of São Paulo from March 10–12. The heavy rainfall triggered deadly floods and landslides, causing 12 fatalities and leaving 6 people injured. Major roads were also inaccessible due to the flood waters. Rainfall totals were remarkable, with Santo André receiving a total of 182 mm (7.2 inches) in just 24 hours. This value is 80% of the monthly average.
  • Heavy rain fell across parts of eastern Paraguay during the last two weeks of March, prompting rivers to overflow their banks. The most affected areas were the departments of Presidente Hayes, Concepción, and Guairá. Over 12,000 families were affected by the flood waters.
  • March 2019 was characterized as slightly below-average for Australia at 8% below the 1961–1990 average. Most of the regions were drier-than-average for the month, with South Australia having the largest precipitation deficit at 64% below average. Meanwhile, Queensland was the only region with above-average precipitation at 45% above average.
    • Tropical Cyclone Trevor, which made landfall in Queensland, Australia twice, brought heavy rain to the region. Several locations set new high March daily rainfall records. Of note, Aurukan Shire Council had a total of 210.8 mm (8.3 inches) of rain on March 21, surpassing the previous record set on 22 March 1985 (167.0 mm / 6.6 inches). This station's records extend back to 1918 (102 years). Meanwhile, Piccaninny Plains Station set a new monthly record with a total of 713 mm (28.1 inches) of rain during March 2019. This is 296.2 mm (11.7 inches) more than the previous record set in 2004.
  • New Zealand's western South Island had extremely heavy rainfall on March 25–27. The Haast River at Roaring Billy had a water level of 7.423 m on March 26—the second highest water level since 1969, trailing behind 1978 (7.580 m). New Zealand set a new national 48-hour rainfall record when a total of 1086 mm of rain (42.8 inches) at the Hokitika catchment of the Cropp River. This value exceeded the previous record set in December 1995 at the same location by 40 mm (1.6 inches).
  • Several United States Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) had moderate to exceptional drought conditions during March 2019. Some of the impacts across the region included below critical reservoir levels, grass fires, health issues due to water problems, as well as issues with food availability.

Ocean Heat Content

Ocean Heat Content (OHC) is essential for understanding and modeling global climate since > 90% of excess heat in the Earth's system is absorbed by the ocean. Further, expansion due to increased ocean heat contributes to sea level rise. Change in OHC is calculated from the difference of observed temperature profiles from the long-term mean.

January–March 2019 Ocean Heat Content (1022 joules)
Basin 0-700 meters | Rank (1955-2019)
Entire Basin Northern Hemisphere Southern Hemisphere
Atlantic6.9812nd3.9322nd3.0492nd
Indian2.73410th0.44010th2.29411th
Pacific7.7601st3.6901st4.0701st
World17.5012nd8.0882nd9.4132nd
Source: Basin time series of heat content
January–March 2019 Heat Content 0-700 m
Heat Content 0-700 m

Global ocean heat content (OHC) for January–March 2019 was the highest January–March OHC, as well as the second highest quarterly OHC, in our records, which extend back to 1955. Only in the previous quarter, October–December 2018, was OHC higher in our records than in January–March 2019. Overall, the latest quarterly OHC reveals widespread warmer than normal, i.e. the 1955–2006 mean, conditions, a situation observed since the end of 2016. As has been the case since April–June 2018, warmer than normal conditions, about 10x105 J/m3, notably occupy the entire equatorial Pacific Ocean. In contrast, much cooler, < -20x105 J/m3, than normal conditions continue to extend eastward from the Philippines in the subtropical western and central North Pacific Ocean. Much higher, > 30x10^5 J/m^3, than normal OHC conditions are observed in the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Stream/North Atlantic Current, the Kuroshio Current/Kuroshio Extension, in the Barents Sea, and along the northern Antarctic Cirumpolar Current in the Indian Ocean. Much cooler than normal conditions persist in the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland and Iceland, in the southern Norwegian Sea, and along the central Antarctic Circumpolar Current in the Indian and Pacific Ocean sectors. Warmer than normal conditions are observed along the western coast of North America.

References


Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Climate Report for March 2019, published online April 2019, retrieved on July 18, 2019 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201903.

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