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March 2016 hottest month in modern times

Staff writer |
As Earth continues to warm and global temperature records are piling up, March 2016 marked the hottest month in modern history.

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It was also the 11th consecutive month in which a monthly global temperature record was broken, the longest such streak in in NOAA's 137-year climate record.

A report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Tuesday said the globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for March 2016 was the highest for the month of March in the NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880.

For March, the average temperature for the globe was 2.20 degrees F above the 20th century average. This was not only the highest for the month of March in the 1880-2016 record, but also the highest monthly temperature departure among all months on record, surpassing the previous all-time record set last month by 0.02 degrees F.

During January-March this year, the average temperature for the globe was 2.07 degrees F above the 20th-century average, according to scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. This was the highest temperature for this period in the 1880-2016 record, breaking the previous record set in 2015 by 0.50 degrees F.

The globally averaged sea surface temperature for the year to date was also highest on record, surpassing the same period in 1998 by 0.42 degrees F, the last time a similar strength El Niño occurred.

The Arctic was also impacted by record global heat with significant melting of Arctic sea ice. Arctic sea ice reached its lowest annual maximum extent of 5.61 million square miles for the year on March 24 in the satellite record. This was 431,000 square miles below average and 5,000 square miles below the previous record from 2015.

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