Earth just had its second-warmest March on record, which isn't a great sign
IMAGE: NASA GISS
So much for a global warming slowdown. New data released on Friday shows that March 2017 was the second-warmest on record, behind March of last year. The global average surface temperature was 1.12 degrees Celsius, or 2.016 degrees Fahrenheit, warmer than the 1951-1980 average.
The two top March temperature anomalies have occurred during the past two years.
March of last year was the hottest such month on record, with a temperature anomaly of 1.27 degrees Celsius, or 2.28 degrees Fahrenheit, above the 20th century average for the month.
March of 2017 was only the eighth month in NASA's database to have a global temperature anomaly at or above 1-degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. This is especially relevant since world leaders have committed to limit global warming to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, below preindustrial levels by the year 2100.
Recent monthly temperatures have come perilously close to one climate guardrail that concerns low-lying developing nations, which favor a temperature target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Celsius, above preindustrial levels. If global temperatures exceed this level, leaders have warned, small island states such as the Maldives and Kiribati would face an existential threat from sea level rise.
Interestingly, the global average temperature anomaly was greater in March than it was in February, and with hints of another El Niño event developing during the next six months, such a warming trend may continue.
According to the global map of temperature anomalies, Europe and all of Russia, particularly Siberia, were much warmer than the 20th century average. Much of the United States was also relatively warm, with the exception of Alaska, which was cooler than average.
The entire year of 2016 was the hottest on record, with last year's temperatures exceeding all previous years since record-keeping began. It is possible, though not likely, that 2017 will beat 2016 to become the third-straight warmest year on record.
NOAA and NASA scientists have said that human-caused global warming was responsible for a majority of the annual temperature gains, including the annual record set in 2016.
However, scientists’ warnings are falling on deaf ears in the Trump administration, with officials like Scott Pruitt, who leads the Environmental Protection Agency, rejecting mainstream climate science altogether.