Despite chills across North America, globe racks up 4th warmest March on record

Just in time for Earth Day 2014, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their monthly summary for March of this year, and the news isn't good for the planet.

It may not have seemed like it to most of us living in Canada and the United States, but according to temperature data collected by NOAA from all around the world, over land and ocean, March 2014 is the fourth warmest March seen since record-keeping began in 1880. NASA data agrees. It was also the warmest since March 2010, which is considered to be the warmest month of March on record so far, and 2010 was overall the warmest year on record.

The warmest regions of the planet in March 2014 — when compared to the 30 years prior to 2010 — were across Asia and eastern Europe, through the western United States and in Australia. There was also a somewhat worrisome rise in temperatures though the Arctic over Alaska and the Yukon, and particularly in northern Siberia, courtesy of the polar vortex.

It was this same polar vortex that was making it so frigid across central and eastern parts of North America last month. However, this is far from being some kind of 'recovery' from the heat or evidence that we're going into some kind of ice age. Climate Central plotted this map of Earth Day temperatures throughout the United States, between 1970 and 2013, to show how the different states of the country have been heating up over that time.

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The trend over just the past four years is raising some concerns for what we'll be seeing next year at this time. March 2010, again the hottest month of March over the past 134 years, was the last one where we were in the middle of an El Niño event. El Niños are known for raising global temperatures; in fact, Environment Canada considers that 2009/2010 El Niño to be the one that cancelled winter for most of Canada. The cooler La Niña phase of the ENSO pattern dominated from 2011 to 2013, and we're sort of 'in the middle' this year, poised between the two. However, forecasters are already noting how we look like we're headed into another El Niño later this year, and signs are even pointing to it possibly developing into a super El Niño, like we saw in 1997-1998.

Based on the temperature across the globe so far this year, 2014 is already vying for 7th place on the list of hottest years on record. If El Niño does develop, even if it doesn't end up being a super El Niño (as we are 'due' for another one), the rise in global temperatures that usually comes along with these events could push 2015 to the very top of that list.

(Images courtesy: NOAA, Climate Central)

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