Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover Extent

March 2024Snow Cover ExtentAnomaly
1991-2020
Trend
per decade
Rank
(58 years)
Record
million km²million mi²million km²million mi²million km²million mi²Year(s)million km²million mi²
Northern Hemisphere38.3714.81-1.42-0.55-0.45-0.17Largest51st198544.2817.10
Smallest8th199037.1214.33
North America15.125.84-0.58-0.22-0.03-0.01Largest45th196917.296.68
Smallest14th196814.045.42
Eurasia23.258.98-0.84-0.32-0.41-0.16Largest46th198127.9510.79
Smallest13th200221.188.18

Data Source: Global Snow Laboratory, Rutgers University. Period of record: 1967–2024 (58 years)

The Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent for March 2024 was 38.37 million square kilometers (14.81 million square miles), which was 1.42 million square kilometers (550,000 square miles) below the 1991–2020 average.

This ranked as the eighth smallest Northern Hemisphere March snow extent on record.

The North America and Greenland snow cover extent was 15.12 million square kilometers (5.84 million square miles), which was 580,000 square kilometers (220,000 square miles) below the 1991–2020 average. This ranked as the 14th smallest March snow cover extent for North America on record, contrasting sharply with last March's much above-average extent.

Above-average March snow cover extent was observed across much of the U.S. Plains and parts of the central and northern U.S. Rockies into southern areas of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba Canada. Above-average snow-cover extent also was present in far western areas of the U.S. from Washington to central California and parts of the Southwest. An expansive area of below-average snow-cover extent stretched from the Upper Midwest to the Northeast U.S. and parts of the Canadian Maritimes. Snow-cover extent also was below average in parts of the Canadian Rockies and Alberta.

Snow cover extent over Eurasia in March was 23.25 million square kilometers (8.98 million square miles), which was 840,000 square kilometers (320,000 square miles) below the 1991–2020 average. This was the 13th-smallest March snow cover extent on record for Eurasia.

March snow cover extent was below-average across most of Europe extending into large parts of western and central Asia. Exceptions included an area covering parts of Mongolia into far northeastern China and a small area in far southeastern Russia where snow-cover extent was above average. Areas of above-average snow-cover extent also were present in parts of Afghanistan, the Himalayas and central China.

In Mongolia, approximately one-fourth of the country remained snow covered in late March following an unusually harsh winter with heavy and persistent snow that has led to millions of livestock deaths.


Sea Ice Extent

The sea ice extent data for the Arctic and Antarctic are provided by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and are measured from passive microwave instruments onboard NOAA Satellites. The sea ice extent period of record is from 1979–2024 for a total of 46 years.

March 2024Sea Ice ExtentAnomaly
1991-2020
Trend
per decade
Rank
(46 years)
Record
million km²million mi²Year(s)million km²million mi²
Northern Hemisphere14.875.74-1.06%-2.46%Largest32nd197916.346.31
Smallest15th201714.295.52
Southern Hemisphere3.181.23-22.06%-0.49%Largest42nd20085.282.04
Smallest5th20172.701.04
Globe18.056.97-5.55%-2.04%Largest39th200820.467.90
Smallest8th201716.996.56

Data Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Period of record: 1979–2024 (46 years)

Globally, March 2024 sea ice extent was eighth smallest in the 46-year record at 18.05 million square kilometers (6.97 million square miles). This was approximately 1.1 million square kilometers (410,000 square miles) less than the 1991–2020 average, but well above the record low March extent of 16.99 million square kilometers (6.56 million square miles) set in 2017.

The average Arctic sea ice extent for March 2024 was the 15th smallest in the satellite record at 14.87 million square kilometers (5.74 million square miles). This was approximately 160,000 square kilometers (60,000 square miles) below the 1991–2020 average, and the greatest March sea ice extent since 2013. According to the NSIDC, Arctic sea ice extent likely reached its maximum extent for the year on March 14, at 15.01 million square kilometers (5.80 million square miles). This was the 14th lowest in the 46-year satellite record. The 2024 maximum is also notable for being lower than it was in 2012, when the subsequent summer minimum Arctic sea ice extent set a record low. Summer sea ice conditions are influenced by thinner ice that now dominates the Arctic as well as spring and summer weather conditions.

March sea ice extent was well below average in Baffin Bay and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, which had its second lowest March sea ice extent on record, slightly more than in 2010. The near-record low sea ice extent in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence is consistent with the anomalous warmth that persisted in the region throughout the past several months. Sea ice extent was near to slightly above average in areas that included the Greenland Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the Sea of Japan while it was near to below average in the Barents Sea and Bering Sea.

The average Antarctic sea ice extent for March 2024 was the fifth smallest on record (3.18 million square kilometers or 1.23 million square miles), approximately 900,000 square kilometers (350,000 square miles) below the 1991–2020 average. This year's March extent was approximately 480,000 square kilometers (190,000 square miles) more than the record low March extent in 2017.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Antarctic sea ice extent expanded slowly in mid-March after reaching its summer minimum extent on February 21. As March ended, ice extent was particularly low in the eastern Ross Sea and western Amundsen Sea region, and in the eastern Bellingshausen Sea.


Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Monthly Global Snow and Ice Report for March 2024, published online April 2024, retrieved on April 14, 2024 from https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/monthly-report/global-snow/202403.