From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published April 17, 2012 07:25 AM

One of the Coldest Months

There is a lot not clear about the weather. In the US Northeast, it is clearly quite warm and almost hot. The average global temperature for March 2012 made it the coolest March since 1999, yet the 16th warmest since record keeping began in 1880. Arctic sea ice extent during the month was below average but was the largest extent since 2008 and one of the largest March extents of the past decade. Additionally, La Niña conditions continued to weaken during March as temperatures across the equatorial Pacific Ocean warmed during the last two months. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, La Niña is expected to dissipate by the end of April 2012.


La Niña is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the counterpart of El Niño as part of the broader El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern. During a period of La Niña, the sea surface temperature across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean will be lower than normal by 3–5 °C.  La Niña often causes drought conditions in the western Pacific; flooding in northern South America; mild wet summers in northern North America, and drought in the southeastern United States. 

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for March 2012 was the 16th warmest March record and the coolest since 1999 at 55.73°F (13.16°C), which is 0.83°F (0.46°C) above the 20th century average of 54.9°F (12.7°C). The margin of error associated with this temperature is ±0.13°F (0.07°C).

The global land-only surface temperature was 1.31°F (0.73°C) above the 20th century average of 40.8°F (5.0°C), making it the 18th warmest March on record and the coolest global land-only March temperature anomaly since 2003. The margin of error is ±0.23°F (0.13°C).

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.

Norway experienced its warmest March since national records began in 1900, while Australia had its third coolest March maximum temperature since national temperature records began in 1950.

The United States also experienced its warmest March, with more than 15,000 warm temperature records broken and the average temperature of the lower 48 states being 51.1°F, 8.6°F above the 20th century average for March.

The January–March worldwide land surface temperature was 0.95°F (0.53°C) above the 20th century average of 38.5°F (3.7°C), the 27th warmest such period on record and the coolest since 1996.  The global ocean surface temperature for the year to date was 0.61°F (0.34°C) above the 20th century average of 60.6°F (15.9°C), tying with 1995 as the 14th warmest such period on record and the coolest since 2008. 

The average Arctic sea ice extent during March 2012 was 3.4 percent below average, ranking ninth smallest March extent since satellite records began in 1979. On the opposite pole, Antarctic sea ice during March was 16.0 percent above average and ranked the fourth largest March extent in the 34-year period of record.

For further information see NOAA March 2012

High Temperature image via Wikipedia

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