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March is 10th consecutive warmest month on record, scientists say: NPR

File – A volunteer distributes drinking water next to a bus stop on a hot summer day in Hyderabad, India, Thursday March 21, 2024. Another month, another heat record for the planet. Earth just experienced its hottest March on record, the 10th consecutive month to set such a record, according to the European Union’s climate agency Copernicus. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A., ​​file)

Mahesh Kumar A./AP


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Mahesh Kumar A./AP


File – A volunteer distributes drinking water next to a bus stop on a hot summer day in Hyderabad, India, Thursday March 21, 2024. Another month, another heat record for the planet. Earth just experienced its hottest March on record, the 10th consecutive month to set such a record, according to the European Union’s climate agency Copernicus. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A., ​​file)

Mahesh Kumar A./AP

WASHINGTON — For the 10th consecutive month, Earth set a new monthly record for global heat in March – with air and ocean temperatures reaching a record high for the month, the Union’s climate agency said European Copernicus.

In March 2024, the average temperature was 14.14 degrees Celsius (57.9 degrees Fahrenheit), surpassing the previous record in 2016 by a tenth of a degree, according to Copernicus data. And it was 1.68 degrees C (3 degrees F) warmer than in the late 1800s, the baseline used for temperatures before the burning of fossil fuels began to grow rapidly.

Since last June, the planet has broken heat records every month, resulting in marine heat waves across large areas of the world’s oceans.

Scientists say the record heat recorded during this period was not entirely surprising due to the strong El Nino phenomenon, a climatic condition that warms the central Pacific and changes global weather patterns.

“But its combination with unnatural marine heatwaves made these records breathtaking,” said Jennifer Francis, a scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center.

With El Nino waning, the margins by which global average temperatures are exceeded each month are expected to shrink, Francis said.

Climatologists attribute most of the record heat to human-caused climate change, driven by carbon dioxide and methane emissions produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas.

“The trajectory will not change until concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop increasing,” Francis said, “which means we must stop burning fossil fuels, stop deforestation and cultivate our food in a more sustainable way as quickly as possible.

Until then, expect more records to be broken, she said.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world set a goal of keeping warming at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times. Copernicus temperature data is monthly and uses a slightly different measurement system than the Paris threshold, which is averaged over two or three decades.

Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Copernicus, said March’s record temperature was not as exceptional as some other months last year that broke records by wider margins.

“We’ve had record months that have been even more unusual,” Burgess said, referring to February 2024 and September 2023. But “the trajectory is not in the right direction,” she added.

The globe has now experienced 12 months with average monthly temperatures of 1.58 degrees Celsius (2.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above the Paris threshold, according to Copernicus data.

In March, the global sea surface temperature averaged 21.07 degrees Celsius (69.93 degrees Fahrenheit), the highest monthly value on record and slightly higher than that recorded in February.

“We need more ambitious global action to ensure we can reach net zero emissions as quickly as possible,” Burgess said.

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