Climate

This Was The Hottest 3-Month Start Of Any Year On Record

CREDIT:

Global temperatures in March vs. 1951-1980 average. Via NASA.

NASA reported Tuesday that this was the hottest three-month start (January to March) of any year on record. This was the third warmest March on record in NASA’s dataset (and the first warmest in the dataset of the Japan Meteorological Agency).

The odds are increasing that this will be the hottest year on record. Last week NOAA predicted a 60 percent chance that the El Niño it declared in March will continue all year. El Niños generally lead to global temperature records, as the short-term El Niño warming adds to the underlying long-term global warming trend.

And in fact, with March, we have broken the record again for the hottest 12 months on record: April 2014 – March 2015. The previous record was March 2014 – February 2015 set the previous month. And the equally short-lived record before that was February 2014 – January 2015.

NASA12MonthRunning

This is using a 12-month moving average, so we can “see the march of temperature change over time,” rather than just once every calendar year, as science writer Dr. Greg Laden puts it.

The global warming trend that made 2014 the hottest calendar year on record is continuing. Some climate scientists have said it’s likely we’re witnessing the start of the long-awaited jump in global temperatures — a jump that could be as much as as 0.5°F.

While March was slightly on the cool side for those living in northeastern U.S., the rest of the country and the globe is quite warm, with large parts of the West and Russia experiencing astonishing warmth. That’s clear in the NASA global map below for March temperatures, whose upper range extends to 7.5°C (13.5°F) above the 1951-1980 average!

NASA March temps

Global temperatures in March vs. 1951-1980 average. Via NASA.

March continued the record-smashing hot start to the year in drought-stricken California. And that means the earliest the drought is likely to ease is late fall or early winter — and that assumes a full-blown El Niño develops in the coming months.

It was also quite warm last month in Siberia, where the permafrost is fast becoming the perma-melt. The permafrost contains twice as much carbon as is currently in the entire atmosphere. The faster it turns into a significant source of carbon dioxide and methane emissions, the more humanity will be penalized for delaying climate action. The defrosting may add as much as 1.5°F to total global warming by 2100 — something that is not factored into any current climate models.

h/t Greg Laden