NOAA reports warmest March on record


B. McPherson

NOAA has reported that March in N. America is the hottest on record. The records for this go back to 1880. They are also reporting that records for Arctic sea ice and global average temperatures have reached record marks as well. 

Of course one month in the history of the planet doesn’t make for a crisis. But record keeping can point out some troubling trends. NOAA’s March report does not speculate causes, but reports the measurements. They indicate that changes are happening.

The following information is based on the March report.

·         Global land and ocean temperatures – 0.85o C (1.53oF)above 20th century average. The previous record high was 2010.

·         Land surface temperatures globally averaged nearly three degrees F. (1.65oC) above 20th century averages.

·         Ocean surface temperatures were a little over half a degree Celsius  higher.

Warmer temperatures indicate that there is more energy in the weather and water systems. When we get more energy in, we see more energetic, read extreme, weather. Cyclones and hurricanes have more ability to do damage. This past winter, changes in the polar jet stream saw half of N. America buried in record snow falls. The western half had uncharacteristically mild weather. As the Earth adjusts to the warmer temperatures, rainfall patterns may also change.

Climate fluctuations of the Earth are normal and have occurred many times over the past few billion years. The most recent “hothouse climate” was a few million years ago when temperatures were high enough to melt the polar ice-caps and allow lush vegetation to grow. Fossils of giant camels have been found in Canada’s high Arctic. Greenland was very likely green.

Humans may be speeding up the rate of climate change by burning carbon based fuels, also known as fossil fuels. Many of our industries, including the cement industry, release what are known as greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. These gasses act like insulation in our air to keep the sun’s warmth in. While we need the sun’s warmth, many scientists are concerned that the insulating effect of human actions is speeding what would normally be changes over millennia.

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