The Earth experienced the 13th warmest March since record keeping began in 1880, as the climate phenomenon La Niña continued to be a significant factor. The annual maximum Arctic sea ice extent was reached on March 7 and tied with 2006 as the smallest annual maximum extent since record keeping began in 1979.

The monthly analysis from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.

Global temperature highlights – March

  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for March 2011 was the 13th warmest on record at 55.78 F (13.19 C), which is 0.88 F (0.49 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).
  • Separately, the global land surface temperature was 1.49 F (0.83 C) above the 20th century average of 40.8 F (5.0 C), and tied for the 12th warmest March on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.15 F (0.27 C).Warmer-than-average conditions occurred across most of Siberia, southwestern Greenland, southern North America, and most of Africa. Cooler-than-average regions included: most of Australia, the western half of Canada, most of Mongolia, China, and southeastern Asia.
  • The March global ocean surface temperature was 0.65 F (0.36 C) above the 20th century average of 60.7 F (15.9 C), making it the 12th warmest March on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.07 F (0.04 C). The warmth was most pronounced in the equatorial Atlantic, the western Pacific Ocean, and across the Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes.