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March Marks Tenth Consecutive Month Of Record-High Temperatures Globally

Climate scientists have called for drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to curb risks of climate change.

Again, the world experienced its warmest March on record, continuing a 10-month streak in which every month set a new temperature record, the European Union’s climate change monitoring service has said.

Each of the last 10 months ranked as the world’s hottest on record, compared with the corresponding month in previous years, the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said in a monthly bulletin.

Essentially, the 12 months ending with March also ranked as the planet’s hottest ever recorded 12-month period, the report said. From April 2023 to March 2024, the global average temperature was 1.58 degrees Celsius above the average in the 1850-1900 pre-industrial period.

“It’s the long-term trend with exceptional records that has us very concerned,” C3S Deputy Director Samantha Burgess told Reuters. Seeing records like this – month in, month out – really shows us that our climate is changing, is changing rapidly,” she added.

C3S’ dataset goes back to 1940, which the scientists cross-checked with other data to confirm that last month was the hottest March since the pre-industrial period.

Already, 2023 was the planet’s hottest year in global records going back to 1850.Extreme weather and exceptional temperatures have wreaked havoc this year.

Climate change-driven drought in the Amazon rainforest region unleashed a record number of wildfires in Venezuela from January-March, while drought in Southern Africa has wiped out crops and left millions of people facing hunger.

Marine scientists also warned last month a mass coral bleaching event is likely unfolding in the Southern Hemisphere, driven by warming waters, and could be the worst in the planet’s history.

The primary cause of the exceptional heat were human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, C3S said. Other factors pushing up temperatures include El Nino, the weather pattern that warms the surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

At the weekend, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) urged Nigerians to stay well-hydrated and avoid strenuous physical activities, especially during the peak hours between 12 noon and 4pm as a result of the heatwaves.

NiMet urged Nigerians to wear shades and hats when outdoors, noting that the advice became imperative due to the likelihood of heat stress and thunderstorms across various parts of the country.

According to NiMet, the heat index over Nigeria is expected to soar, with strong prospects of heat stress in many regions, urging the public to take necessary precautions.

But the C3S report stated that the world’s average sea surface temperature hit a record high, for any month on record, and marine air temperatures remained unusually high.

“The main driver of the warming is fossil fuel emissions,” said Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute.

Failure to reduce these emissions will continue to drive the warming of the planet, resulting in more intense droughts, fires, heatwaves and heavy rainfall, Otto said.

“This is the tenth month in a row that is the warmest on record for the respective month of the year. The month was 1.68°C warmer than an estimate of the March average for 1850-1900, the designated pre-industrial reference period.

“The global-average temperature for the past 12 months (April 2023 – March 2024) is the highest on record, at 0.70°C above the 1991-2020 average and 1.58°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average.

“The average European temperature for March 2024 was 2.12°C above the 1991-2020 average for March, making the month the second warmest March on record for the continent, only a marginal 0.02°C cooler than March 2014. Temperatures were most above average in central and eastern regions,” part of the report stated.

Outside Europe, it noted that temperatures were most above average over eastern North America, Greenland, eastern Russia, Central America, parts of South America, many parts of Africa, southern Australia, and parts of Antarctica.

“The global sea surface temperature averaged for March over 60°S–60°N was 21.07°C, the highest monthly value on record, marginally above the 21.06°C recorded for February,” it added.

 “March 2024 continues the sequence of climate records toppling for both air temperature and ocean surface temperatures, with the 10th consecutive record-breaking month.

“The global average temperature is the highest on record, with the past 12 months being 1.58°C above pre-industrial levels. Stopping further warming requires rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,’’ Burgess, Deputy Director of C3S emphasised.

Emmanuel Addeh 

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