It was the second joint warmest March on record

It was the second joint warmest March on record



13 April 2023

The world had the second warmest March on record and Antarctic sea ice was the second lowest on record, according to two internationally recognized datasets which feed into WMO’s State of the Global Climate reports.

Antarctic sea ice extent continued to hover near record low levels, ranking as the second-smallest March extent on record, according to the reports from the EU Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) and the US National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA).

There were three named storms which reached major tropical cyclone strength. The exceptionally long-lived Tropical Cyclone Freddy in the South Indian Ocean set a record for the largest amount of accumulated cyclone energy (ACE), an integrated metric of the strength, frequency and duration of tropical storms, for any storm on record. A WMO Expert Committee is examining whether Freddy, which caused serious loss of life and major flooding in Madagascar, Malawi and Mozamibique, set a record as the longest-lasting tropical cyclone.

Global map of below and above average temperatures

March 2023 - temperature highlights:

The month was jointly the second warmest March globally, according to Copernicus which is operated by ECMWF. NOAA said it was the second warmest.

Temperatures were above average over southern and central Europe, and below average over most of northern Europe

It was much warmer than average over a vast swathe of land covering North Africa, south-western Russia and most of Asia, where many new high temperatures records for March were set

Much above-average temperatures also occurred over north-eastern North America, Argentina and neighbouring countries, a large part of Australia, and coastal Antarctica

Conversely, it was much colder than average over western and central North America

March 2023 – hydrological variables highlights:

In March 2023, it was wetter than average in a west-to-northeast band across northern Europe, and over Türkiye.  

Regions experiencing drier-than-average conditions during March 2023 included most of the Iberian Peninsula, where conditions were conducive to wildfires, the Alpine arc, parts of Central Europe, the eastern Balkans, and the north-western coast of the Caspian Sea.  

Beyond Europe, in March 2023 it was wetter than average over parts of the USA, several regions of Asia, the Horn of Africa, New Zealand, northern Australia, part of southern Africa, and Brazil. In many regions heavy precipitation led to flooding.

It was drier than average over Argentina, which experienced continuing drought, southern Australia, south-western Africa and parts of Asia. In many cases these conditions were associated with warmer-than-average temperatures.

March 2023 – Sea ice highlights:

Chart showing Antarctic sea ice


Antarctic sea ice extent was the second lowest for March in the satellite data record, at 28% below average, following a record low extent in February.

Sea ice concentrations were much below-average in all sectors of the Southern Ocean.

Arctic sea ice extent was 4% below average, ranking joint 4th lowest for March in the satellite data record, but also close to the three lowest extents.

Contrasting with mostly below-average sea ice concentrations in other Arctic Ocean sectors, concentrations were well above average in the Greenland Sea.

The Copernicus  monthly climate bulletins report on the changes observed in global surface air temperature, sea ice cover and hydrological variables. All the reported findings are based on computer-generated analyses using billions of measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world. 

Copernicus/ECMWF and NOAA datasets feed into WMO’s State of the Global Climate reports. The State of the Global Climate 2022 report will be published on 21 April.


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