Understanding Temperature Anomalies

Understanding Temperature Anomalies

Understanding Temperature Anomalies


  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) end-of-year yearly report contextualises particular months’ ranking by temperature anomalies.
  • While this March was the second warmest on record, the warmest March came just a few years earlier in 2016, when the largest El Nino of the twenty-first century prompted mini-global warming. Each March might be warmer or cooler than the previous year’s March. Temperatures can momentarily rise due to natural climate variability, such as El Nino occurrences.
  • When comparing and ranking individual months, climate scientists must provide the right context.

Points to Ponder:

  • March 2023 was the second warmest on record worldwide.
  • Natural climate variability, such as El Nino and La Nina occurrences, can cause temperature spikes and disrupt weather patterns.
  • When comparing and evaluating individual months, climate scientists must provide adequate context.
  • In March 2023, the distribution of temperature departures from the long-term average temperature varied internationally.
  • All global warming is local; its impact varies by area and affects local weather patterns.
  • Global warming does not imply that each month or year will be warmer than the previous one, but there is a warming trend from decade to decade.
  • The influence of a warm March over Eurasia in the form of below-normal precipitation is visible in the March 2023 precipitation anomalies.
  • Understanding the impact of global warming in one’s backyard can motivate people to take action on climate change.
  • In 2016, the warmest March on record happened as a result of a strong El Nino phenomenon, which led to “mini” global warming.
  • The January-March average temperature anomaly in 2023 is the fourth hottest on record.
  • The global distribution of temperature anomalies is caused by land-ocean-atmosphere systems that control weather and climate dynamically.
  • Warmer-than-average temperatures in India’s west and north contributed to lower temperatures in Mumbai, heavy pre-monsoon rains in the northwest, and blistering heat waves in Kerala and Odisha in March 2023.
  • In March 2023, the Arabian Sea warmed more than projected, which may favour a stronger monsoon but may potentially promote cyclonic circulation across the Arabian Sea.
  • Reduced snowfall across the Eurasian mainland has historically favoured a greater monsoon, but it may possibly dampen the El Nino effect in 2023.
  • Putting temperature and precipitation anomalies in context helps people grasp the influence of global warming on local weather patterns.
  • Participating in climate action can help to lessen the consequences of global warming and reduce the burden on local communities.

El Niño

El Nio is the warm phase of the El Nio-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and it is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific (roughly between the International Date Line and 120°W), including the area of South America’s Pacific coast. The ENSO is the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean’s cycle of warm and cool sea surface temperature (SST).

La Niña

  • La Nina is the colder counterpart of El Nino and is part of the larger El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate cycle. 
  • During a La Nia period, the sea surface temperature throughout the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean will be 3-5 °C (5.4-9 °F) lower than typical.
  •  La Nia’s appearance can last for more than five months. El Nino and La Nina can be markers of global weather changes.
  •  Because of differences in wind shear and sea surface temperatures, Atlantic and Pacific hurricanes can have quite different features.

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