Hottest March on record adds to 10-month run of blistering temperatures

Temperatures have been soaring worldwide for months. Credit: AP

March was the 10th month in a row to be the hottest on record for the time of year, as global climate records continue to topple, scientists said.

The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) shows March 2024 was hotter globally than any other previous record for the month, with temperatures 1.68C warmer than the estimate for pre-industrial times.

The global average temperature for the last 12 months is also the highest on record, at 1.58C above the pre-industrial average from 1850-1900, pushing the world – temporarily at least- above the 1.5C threshold to which countries have agreed to limit global warming to avoid its most dangerous impacts.

Earlier this year Copernicus said the global mean temperature between February 2023 and January 2024, was 1.52C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average.

Despite heavy rain in March in England it was still warmer than average. Credit: PA

Sea surface temperatures outside the polar regions were at record highs in March, averaging 21.07C for the month, marginally above the 21.06C recorded for February.

The figures from C3S also show how temperatures have risen significantly in recent years, with the global average temperatures over the past 12 months up 0.7C on the 1991-2020 average, and this March 0.73C warmer than average for that period.

European temperatures were 2.12C warmer than the 1991-2020 average in March, making it the second warmest on record for the continent and only 0.02C cooler than March 2014, the data show.

Outside Europe, temperatures were most above average over eastern North America, Greenland, eastern Russia, Central America, parts of South America, many parts of Africa, southern Australia, and parts of Antarctica, the analysis shows.

Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S, said: “March 2024 continues the sequence of climate records toppling for both air temperature and ocean surface temperatures, with the 10th consecutive record-breaking month.

“The global average temperature is the highest on record, with the past 12 months being 1.58C above pre-industrial levels. “Stopping further warming requires rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” she warned.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.