2020 could be the warmest year on record

January through March this year ranks as the second-warmest such period on record [File: Farai Matiashe/Al Jazeera]

Last month was Earth’s second-warmest March and third-warmest month on record.

The US’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and NASA confirmed that March 2020 was the planet’s second-warmest March since records began in 1880.

The warmest March ever was in 2016.

The most notable March 2020 temperatures were across much of Asia, the eastern half of the United States, and southern South America where temperatures were 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above average, the agencies reported on Monday.

Some ocean temperatures were also notable, including parts of the tropical Atlantic Ocean, central Indian Ocean, and areas of the northern and southwestern Pacific Ocean.

On average, these ocean temperatures were 1.5C (2.7F) above average or higher. 

Averaged as a whole, the global land and ocean surface temperature for March 2020 was 1.16C (2.09F) above the 20th century average of 12.7C (54.9F).

Only March 2016 was warmer at 1.31C (2.36F). However, 2016 also saw a near-record strong El Nino event.

Global temperature records are more likely to be set during El Nino events because of the extra heat the tropical Pacific Ocean produces in the atmosphere.

Right now, there is no El Nino to boost temperatures, so it makes March 2020 all the more notable.

January through March this year ranks as the second-warmest such period on record; 2016 was the warmest ever.

According to NCEI’s annual temperature outlook, 2020 has more than a 70 percent chance of being the warmest year on record. 

As things stand right now, 2020 has a 99.94 percent chance of ranking among the five warmest years ever recorded.

If so, this would mean the past seven years are the seven warmest on record.


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