March had near-record small Antarctic sea ice extent
The global temperature for March 2022 was the fifth highest for March in the 143-year NOAA record, which dates back to 1880. The year-to-date (January-March) global surface temperature was also the fifth warmest such period on record. According to NCEI’s Global Annual Temperature Rankings Outlook, it is virtually certain (> 99.0%) that the year 2022 will rank among the 10 warmest years on record.
This monthly summary, developed by scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making.
Monthly Global Temperature
The March 2022 global surface temperature was 1.71°F (0.95°C) above the 20th-century average of 54.9°F (12.7°C) – the fifth-warmest March in the 143-year record. The seven warmest March months have occurred since 2015. March 2022 also marked the 46th consecutive March and the 447th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average.
Temperatures were above average across parts of Central America and northern South America, central Africa, southern and eastern Asia, Australia, as well as parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and northern, western and southwestern Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, near to cooler-than-average temperatures were observed across parts of central North America, southern South America, southeastern Europe, the northern Middle East, northern Africa, and western and central Russia, as well as parts of the northern Atlantic Ocean (south of Greenland) and the central, eastern tropical and southeastern Pacific Ocean.
Regionally, Oceania had its fourth-warmest March and Asia had its ninth-warmest March on record. Although South America and Africa had an above-average temperature overall, it was the smallest March temperature departure since 2014 and 2015, respectively. North America and Europe also had an above-average March temperature, but didn’t rank among the top-20 warm Marches.
Sea Ice and Snow Cover
According to data from NOAA and analysis by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during March was near the 1981-2010 average at 15.46 million square miles. North America and Eurasia also had near-average March snow cover extent.
The March 2022 Arctic sea ice extent averaged 5.63 million square miles, which is 324,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average and the ninth-smallest for March since records began in 1979. Regionally, the Bering Sea and Baffin Bay had their largest March sea ice extent since 2013 and 2015, respectively. Meanwhile, the Sea of Okhotsk had its smallest March sea ice extent since 2015.
The Antarctic sea ice extent for March 2022 was the second-smallest for March in the 44-year record at 1.09 million square miles, which is 470,000 square miles below average. Only March of 2017 had a smaller sea ice extent at 510,000 square miles below average.
Global Tropical Cyclones
Nine tropical storms formed globally in March, tying with 2015 and 2018 as the second highest number of tropical storms in March. Only March of 1994 had more tropical cyclones with a total of 10. Only three of the nine tropical storms reached cyclone (hurricane) strength, which is below normal for the month. The Northern Hemisphere only had one named storm during the month and it formed over the North Indian Ocean. The West Pacific had no storms, which is unusual. The South Indian Ocean was the most active basin in March 2022, with two major tropical cyclones. The Southwest Pacific basin had below-normal activity for the month, while the Australia basin had above-normal activity with four named storms.
For a more complete summary of climate conditions and events, see our March 2022 Global Climate Report.