March Ranked as 16th Warmest for Planet
Significant weather for March 2012, according to NOAA.
Credit: NOAA

While the continental United States experienced the warmest March in more than a century, global temperatures were above average, but not nearly so remarkably, according to U.S. weather data.

This year saw the coolest March on record globally in the past 13 years, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Monday (April 16).

This doesn't mean last month brought a planetary cool spell; the average global temperature still exceeded the global average for the 20th century and put March 2012 as the 16th warmest March on record since 1880. [Was It Climate Change?]

March brought warmer-than-average weather to nearly all of Canada, the lower 48 U.S. states, Mexico, Europe, Argentina, Peru, and parts of northern and central Russia, India, China, and eastern Brazil. Cooler-than-average weather occurred in Alaska, Australia, eastern and western Russia, and parts of New Zealand.

The extent of the Arctic's sea ice during March was 3.4 percent below average, ranking as the ninth lowest sea-ice extent for March since satellite records began in 1979. At the opposite pole, the Antarctic saw sea-ice extent that was 16 percent above average, ranking as the fourth largest in extent for March in the 34-year period of records.

You can follow LiveScience senior writer Wynne Parry on Twitter @Wynne_Parry. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.