Was last month warm or was it just me? There were periods of balmy weather, but a few frigid days snuck in as well. The truth, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is that combined land and global temperatures in March 2010 were 56.3F, the highest since record keeping began more than a century ago. Ocean temperatures in March were the highest ever recorded and were 1.01F higher than the average 20th century ocean temperatures. Surface temperatures were the fourth highest on record; March 2008 holds the record. March 2010 surface temperatures were 2.45F higher than the 20th century average.
March temperatures, according to NOAA’s State of the Climate Report were “above normal.” Moreover, the report continues, weather patterns were abnormal. Regions in the South experienced colder temperatures than normal and areas in the Northeast saw warmer, wetter weather than normal. For Rhode Island, March 2010 was the warmest March on record and the second warmest in Maine. For Connecticut, March 2010 was the fifth warmest March in 116 years. Warm temperatures were reported globally as well. Parts of India, Canada and China experienced warmer than usual temperatures.
So what’s causing the rise in temperatures? According to a recent article in The New York Times, most scientists, including The Geological Society of America and The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agree that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse-gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s. In simple terms: we are causing the global warming trend. Driving cars, heating our homes and many other everyday luxuries we take for granted emit greenhouse gases, which lead to increased global temperatures.
Now what does all this warming mean? Is this climate change? Global warming has arrived!? Not so fast. When observing weather and temperature increases or decreases, it is important to realize that climate by definition refers to weather conditions over a period of time. This period of time extends beyond the month of March or even the year 2009. Climate is also not limited to temperatures, but it also includes patterns of humidity, precipitation, wind and other factors. It would be inaccurate to claim that these three warmer than average months are signs of global warming. They do indicate a warming trend; however, especially if the remainder of 2010 continues to bring increased temperature. According to NASA, 2009 was the second warmest year on record. Hopefully, 2010 will not claim the top spot. The records slashed by March 2010 forces us to consider the actions we are taking as individuals to reduce personal emissions, as well as the possible consequences of continuing to carelessly pollute. Let’s keep it cool.