March 2022 Temperature Update

The following is a summary of global temperature conditions in Berkeley Earth’s analysis of March 2022.

  • March 2022 was the 5th warmest March since records began in 1850.
  • Warm conditions occurred over much of Asia, the Arctic, and Antarctica.
  • Unusually cool conditions were present in the Middle East and the equatorial Pacific.
  • La Niña conditions are present and are likely to keep 2022 cooler than recent record years.
  • 2022 is nearly certain to be one of the top ten warmest years, but unlikely to be a new warmest year (only a ~6% chance of a new record).

Notice: Due to persistent delays with the HadSST ocean data normally used by Berkeley Earth, this update uses ocean data from Copernicus. See the discussion at the end for further information.

Global Summary

Globally, March 2022 has been the fifth warmest March since records began in 1850. This March is notably cooler than March 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020, though it is warmer than in March 2021 and all other previous years. Both 2021 and 2022 began with La Niña conditions, which tend to slightly reduce global average temperatures, though March 2022 was noticeably warmer than March 2021.

The global mean temperature in March 2022 was 1.06 ± 0.08 °C (1.91 ± 0.15 °F) above the 1951 to 1980 average.

This is equivalent to being 1.38 ± 0.10 °C (2.49 ± 0.17 °F) above the 1850 to 1900 average, which is frequently used as a benchmark for the preindustrial period.

The global mean temperature anomaly in March 2022 was a significant jump up from February 2022 and similar to October 2021, which was the warmest month of 2021. Temperatures in March were close to the long-term trend line despite the cooling effect of the ongoing La Niña conditions.

Spatial Variation

March 2022 continues the ongoing pattern of wide-spread warmth, though with some notable exceptions. Particularly warm conditions were present in much of Asia, the Arctic, and parts of the Antarctic. Record setting warmth was also present in a significant portion of the North Pacific Ocean. Particularly cool conditions were present in the Middle East, as well as the Eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.

The warmth across much of Asia is particularly prominent on our maps. Portions of Southern Asia, including much of China experienced record warmth for March.

We estimate that 4.2% of the Earth’s surface experienced their locally warmest March average, and 79% of the Earth’s surface was significantly warm when compared to their local average during the period 1951 to 1980. In addition, none of the Earth’s surface had their locally coldest March.

The cool area in the Eastern Pacific is consistent with the ongoing La Niña conditions.

Over land regions, 2022 was the 6th warmest March, coming in as 1.56 ± 0.09 °C (2.81 ± 0.16 °F) above the 1951 to 1980 average.

March 2022 was the 5th warmest March in the oceans, recorded as 0.61 ± 0.12 °C (1.11 ± 0.21 °F) above the 1951 to 1980 average.

As noted above, the record setting warmth across parts of Southern Asia included much of China. Notably, this resulted in a new national record for the warmest Chinese national average during March.

Antarctic Record Heat Wave

During March 2022, one of the most significant weather events was a record-setting heatwave affecting the East Antarctic plateau. Temperatures at the remote manned research station at Dome C rose to -10.1 °C (+13.8 °F) which was 38.5°C (69.3°F) warmer than expected for this time of year.

This appears to be a new world record for the largest temperature excess above normal ever observed at an established weather station. This heatwave also led to record high monthly average temperatures for parts of East Antarctica.

A graph showing the record high temperature anomaly from the March 2022 Antarctic heatwave

This event was linked to a disturbance in atmospheric circulation that brought an atmospheric river from the warm Southern Ocean to the Antarctic Plateau. This event greatly exceeded any previously observed similar events in Antarctica, and changed our perceptions of what may be possible in this environment. Looking at past statistical distributions, we estimated that this event may have been a roughly once-in-200-year event. However, any possible link to climate change still needs to be evaluated and understood.

This weather event is discussed in detail in a separate blog post.

La Niña

March 2022 showed modest La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean. The La Niña phenomenon, associated with relatively cool water in the Eastern equatorial Pacific, is a form of seasonal weather variability that is generally associated with cooler global average temperatures. The current La Niña event is expected to gradually shift towards neutral conditions over the next few months. However, the CPC/IRI analysis suggests that either neutral or La Niña conditions are most likely over the rest of the year, with only a ~15% chance of a shift to El Niño conditions before the end of this year.

Predictions of future sea surface temperatures in the core ENSO region from IRI/CPC.

Rest of 2022

The ongoing La Niña event makes it likely that 2022 will be cooler than recent record warm years; however, 2022 is nearly certain to remain within the top ten warmest years overall. If La Niña dissipates, the annual average might be expected to warm some during the latter half of 2022 compared to the first half of the year, but the full year is unlikely to challenge the previous record warm years.

The statistical approach that we use, looking at conditions in recent months, believes that 2022 is most likely to be the 4th or 5th warmest year in the instrumental record, with about a 65% chance of one of these outcomes. There is a small chance (6%) that the remainder of 2022 warms enough to be a record warm year. It is very unlikely that 2022 will be any cooler than the 8th warmest, which means that this year is very likely to still surpass all years prior to 2015.

Likelihood of final 2022 ranking:

  • 1st place (6 %)
    • Top 3 overall (19 %)
  • 4th place (38 %)
  • 5th place (25 %)
  • 6th, 7th, or 8th place (18 %)
    • Top 8 overall (99 %)


The Berkeley Earth global temperature data set is ordinarily a combination of Berkeley Earth land surface temperature data and an interpolated ocean sea surface temperature field derived from the HadSST4 data set. The HadSST data set is built upon multiple third-party data collections of direct ocean temperature measurements from ships, buoys, and other platforms. During most of 2021, HadSST updates were frequently subject to delays of weeks or months due to delays in the third-party data sources that it relied on. Due to these delays, Berkeley Earth updates were also frequently delayed.

Due to the ongoing pattern of delays, we have taken the unusual step of preparing this monthly temperature report using an alternative set of sea surface temperature data. The data set adopted for this purpose is the sea surface temperature data from the Copernicus ERA5 reanalysis. This alternative data is only used for March 2022 during which HadSST4 is not yet available. The ERA5 data has been reprocessed to make it more similar to the resolution of our previous analysis and local anomaly baselines have adjusted to match the 1980 to 2021 period in HadSST4.

We believe that this substitute data should provide a good indication of current global ocean conditions.

However, due to difference between ERA5 and HadSST4, we do observe more small-scale variation in the data processed this way and estimates of temperature ranks for assessing local records may sometimes be unreliable in the ocean. In addition, we have increased the reported uncertainty on the ocean averages to include an estimate of the systematic differences between HadSST4 and ERA5.

Though we have adopted ERA5 ocean data for these reports in order to provide timely temperature updates, the gridded data sets appearing on the Berkeley Earth website will continue to use only HadSST as described in the associated documentation. As a result, updates to some of the gridded data sets are likely to continue to be delayed.

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