March 2017 was warmer than the 1981-2010 average over almost all of Europe, particularly so over the east of the continent.
Temperatures were substantially above average over northern Russia, where a peak value about 15 OC above normal was reached. They were also well above normal over the contiguous USA, and over and off the coast of West Antarctica, where sea-ice extent remained extremely low. Other relatively warm areas include the famine-threatened regions of Central and East Africa, and much of Australia.
Temperature was much below average over Alaska. Other regions of below-average temperature include most of Canada and parts of southern Asia, southern Africa and East Antarctica. Below-average temperatures also occurred over an area of above-average sea-ice concentration between Svalbard and Greenland.
Temperatures were predominantly above average over the oceans, but March was relatively cool over some parts of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Average temperatures for the twelve-month period from April 2016 to March 2017 were:
most above the 1981-2010 average in the Arctic, especially over and to the east of Svalbard; higher than average over most areas of land and ocean; lower than average mainly over parts of the southern oceans and a few land areas; lower than average also over the equatorial Pacific, where weak La Niña conditions prevailed from around May 2016 until early 2017.
March 2017 extended the spell of exceptional global warmth that has now lasted since mid-2015. Although the global temperature anomaly peaked in March 2016 and declined steadily until June, it rose again in July and August, and has remained high since. February and March 2017 were the most anomalous months since April 2016. March 2017 was:
0.69OC warmer than the average March from 1981-2010; the second warmest March on record; 0.10OC cooler than March 2016.
Only two months from October 2015 onwards have been less extreme than January 2007, which was previously the month with the highest anomaly (0.54OC). Each month from August 2015 to September 2016 successively became the warmest on record for that particular calendar month.
The largest anomalies in European-average temperatures occur in wintertime, and values can vary substantially from month to month. Anomalies during much of the past winter were smaller than in recent years, but the March average was 2.5OC above its 1981-2010 norm, making the month close to but not quite the warmest March on record over Europe.
Averaging over twelve-month periods smooths out the shorter-term variations. Globally, the twelve-month average from April 2016 to March 2017 is 0. 59OC above the 1981-2010 average. The warmest twelve-month period on record is from October 2015 to September 2016, with a temperature 0.64OC above average. 2016 is by far the warmest calendar year on record: its global temperature of 0.62OC above the average for 1981-2010 compares with values of 0.44OC and 0.35 OC respectively for 2015 and 2005, the two next warmest calendar years.
The spread in the global averages from various temperature datasets has been unusually large for the last few months, due to differences in the extent to which datasets represent the relatively warm conditions occurring at high-latitudes. Spread is also high for the year 2005. Nevertheless, there is general agreement between datasets regarding:
the exceptional warmth of 2016, and to a lesser extent 2015; the overall rate of warming since the late 1970s; the sustained period of above-average temperatures from 2001 onwards.
There is more variability in average European temperatures, but values are less uncertain because observational coverage of the continent is relatively dense. Twelve-month averages for Europe have been at a high level for the last three years or so, although they have fallen in recent months. The warmest twelve-month period occurred from July 2006 to June 2007.
The average surface air temperature analysis homepage explains more about the production and reliability of these values.