We just had our 2nd warmest March, and with El Ni単o maybe rising from the dead, things could get interesting

By Tom Yulsman | April 18, 2017 4:01 pm
This map shows how temperatures varied from the long-term average in March 2017. Europe and all of Russia were again much warmer than the 1951-1980 base period. Much of the United States was also relatively warm, but Alaska was cool. (Source: NASA GISS)

This map shows how temperatures varied from the long-term meanin March 2017. Europe and all of Russia were again much warmer than the 1951-1980 base period. Much of the United States was also relatively warm, but Alaska was cool. (Source: NASA GISS)

The home planet just experienced its second warmest March on record, according to an analysis released by NASA last week. The agency’s temperature records go all the way back to 1880

From the analysis:

Last month was 1.12 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean March temperature from 1951-1980. The two top March temperature anomalies have occurred during the past two years.

Here’s how the year so far compares with the seasonal cycle for every year since 1880:



It’s still early in the year, but so far 2017 has mostly been second warmest among allyears on record. And now, there are signs that a new El Ni単o may be stirring in the tropical Pacific.

SEE ALSO: Say, WHAT? After one of the strongest El Ni単os on record, another one maybe be brewing

El Ni単o is associated with warming temperatures in the tropical Pacific, as well as global weather impacts. The monster El Ni単o that finally dissipated in 2016 helpedboost global temperatures already running significantly warmer than average due to human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases. The yearsmashed the previous mark for warmest on record.

SEE ALSO: Climate change in 2016 and continuing into 2017 has brought the planet into “truly uncharted territory”

Will another El Ni単o form and cause a similar effect this year? It’s still too soon for scientists to say. We should know more in another couple of months.

Meanwhile, it’s patently obvious that over the long run, there has been no global warming slowdown. Check it out for yourself:

Source: Makiko Sato, Columbia University via NASA GISS

This graph shows how temperatures have varied from a base period of 1880 to 1920, through March of 2017. (Source: Makiko Sato, Columbia University via NASA GISS)

As the graph shows, yes, there are ups and downs in global temperature, but if you can’t see the overall trend particularly since about 1970 well, whatmore can besaid?

As greenhouse gases continue to rise unabated, and heat keeps on building up in the climate system, the risk of passing tipping points in the system increases, according to James White, director of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado. The record of past climate changes in Earth’s history provides some hints of what could happen, but the insights are limited because those changes played out over long time periods than the ones we are causing.

“We are going into somewhat uncharted waters from a warming point of view,” White says.

  • input@nu

    The world is really on fire now, and yet, some people think life can continue as it used to. We have to put the fire down now, or we will burn alive.

  • OWilson

    The End is Nigh!

    Give up your worldly goods, and Ye shall be saved!

  • Mike Richardson

    1.24 degrees Celsius/Centigrade is pretty significant, especially considering it’s a global average taking into account both northern and southern hemisphere readings, as the NASA GISS report indicates. That it fell short of 2016’s record is small consolation, taken in context with the long-term trend illustrated in the graph. The sooner we kick our fossil fuel habit, the better, if it isn’t in fact already too late to avoid catastrophic climate change in the coming decades.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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