Broken Record: March is 10th Straight Month To Be Hottest On Record, Scientists Say

The European Union climate office Copernicus said that air temperatures and ocean temperatures reached record highs in March for the 10th month in a row.

Copernicus data showed that March 2024 averaged 14.14 degrees Celsius (57.9 degrees Fahrenheit), beating the 2016 record by a tenth. Temperatures were 1.68 degrees C (3 degrees F) higher than in the late 1800s, before fossil fuel use exploded.

Marine heat waves over big oceans have shattered heat records each month since June. Scientists think a strong El Nino, which warms the central Pacific and modifies global weather patterns, partially explained the record-breaking heat.

“But its combination with the non-natural marine heat waves made these records so breathtaking,” said Jennifer Francis of Woodwell Climate Research Center. Francis said global average temperatures should rise less each month as El Nino weakens.

Scientists attribute much of the record heat to human-caused climate change from coal, oil, and natural gas emissions of carbon dioxide and methane.

The 2015 Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times. Copernicus measures temperature monthly using a slightly different system than the Paris threshold, which is averaged over two or three decades.

Samantha Burgess, Copernicus deputy director, said March's record-breaking temperature wasn't as extreme as other months in the preceding year.

Burgess named February 2024 and September 2023 as record-breaking months with even more exceptional conditions. But "the trajectory is not in the right direction," she said.

Copernicus data shows 12 months with average monthly temperatures 1.58 degrees Celsius (2.8 degrees Fahrenheit) over the Paris threshold.

Global sea surface temperature averaged 21.07 degrees Celsius (69.93 degrees Fahrenheit) in March, the highest monthly reading on record and slightly higher than February.