March 2024 warmest ever, 12-month average temperature reaches new record

The world experienced the warmest March ever due to a combined effect of El Nino conditions and human caused climate change, making it the 10th consecutive month since June last year to set a new temperature record, the European Union’s climate agency said on Tuesday.
The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said the average temperature of 14.14 degrees Celsius in March was 1.68 degrees Celsius higher than the month’s average for 1850-1900, the designated pre-industrial reference period.
It was 0.73 degrees Celsius above the 1991-2020 average for March and 0.10 degrees Celsius above the previous high set in March 2016.
“The global average temperature for the past 12 months (April 2023-March 2024) is the highest recorded, at 0.70 degrees Celsius above the 1991-2020 average and 1.58 degrees Celsius above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average,” the climate agency said.
C3S said the global average temperature breached the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold for an entire year for the first time in January.
A permanent breach of the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit specified in the Paris Agreement, however, refers to long-term warming over many years.
According to climate scientists, countries need to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Earth’s global surface temperature has already increased by around 1.15 degrees Celsius compared to the average in 1850-1900, a level that hasn’t been witnessed since 1,25,000 years ago, before the most recent ice age. This warming is considered the reason behind record droughts, wildfires and floods worldwide.
The rise in global average temperature is attributed to the rapidly increasing concentration of greenhouse gases — primarily carbon dioxide and methane — in the atmosphere.
“March 2024 continues the sequence of climate records toppling in both air temperature and ocean surface temperatures, with the 10th consecutive record-breaking month.
“The global average temperature is the highest recorded, with the past 12 months being 1.58 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Stopping further warming requires rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S.
Globally, 2023 was the warmest year in the 174-year observational record, with the global average near-surface temperature at 1.45 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial baseline (1850-1900).
The warming may set a new record in 2024 as scientists say El Nino — periodic warming of the ocean surface in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean — typically has the greatest impact on global climate in the second year of its development.
The continuing, albeit weaker, El Nino and predicted above-normal sea-surface temperatures over much of the global oceans are expected to lead to above-normal temperatures over almost all land areas until May and influence regional rainfall patterns, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said in a March update.
There is a chance of La Nina developing later in the year.
Scientists closely tracking the development in India have said La Nina conditions setting in by June-August could mean better monsoon rains this year compared to 2023.
El Nino occurs every two to seven years on average and typically lasts nine to 12 months. The current El Nino event, which developed in June 2023, was at its strongest between November and January.
It is associated with increased rainfall in the Horn of Africa and the southern US, and unusually dry and warm conditions in Southeast Asia, Australia, and southern Africa. (PTI)