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Hottest March on Record

The world’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made last month the warmest March on record, according to NOAA. Taken separately, average ocean temperatures were the warmest for any March and the global land surface was the fourth warmest for any March on record. Additionally, the planet has seen the fourth warmest January – March period on record.

The monthly National Climatic Data Center analysis, which is based on records going back to 1880, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.

Global Temperature Highlights – March 2010
•The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for March 2010 was the warmest on record at 56.3°F (13.5°C), which is 1.39°F (0.77°C) above the 20th century average of 54.9°F (12.7°C).

•The worldwide ocean surface temperature was the highest for any March on record –1.01°F (0.56°C) above the 20th century average of 60.7°F (15.9°C).

•Separately, the global land surface temperature was 2.45°F (1.36°C) above the 20th century average of 40.8 °F (5.0°C) — the fourth warmest on record. Warmer-than-normal conditions dominated the globe, especially in northern Africa, South Asia and Canada. Cooler-than-normal regions included Mongolia and eastern Russia, northern and western Europe, Mexico, northern Australia, western Alaska and the southeastern United States.

•El Niño weakened to moderate strength in March, but it contributed significantly to the warmth in the tropical belt and the overall ocean temperature. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, El Niño is expected to continue its influence in the Northern Hemisphere at least through the spring.

•For the year-to-date, the combined global land- and ocean-surface temperature of 55.3°F (13.0°C) was the fourth warmest for a January-March period. This value is 1.19°F (0.66°C) above the 20th century average.

•According to the Beijing Climate Center, Tibet experienced its second warmest March since historical records began in 1951. Delhi, India also had its second warmest March since records began in 1901, according to the India Meteorological Department.

Other Highlights
•Arctic sea ice covered an average of 5.8 million square miles (15.1 million square kilometers) during March. This is 4.1 percent below the 1979-2000 average expanse, and the fifth-smallest March coverage since records began in 1979. Ice coverage traditionally reaches its maximum in March, and this was the 17th consecutive March with below-average Arctic sea ice coverage. This year the Arctic sea ice reached its maximum size on March 31st, the latest date for the maximum Arctic sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979.

•Antarctic sea ice expanse in March was 6.9 percent below the 1979-2000 average, resulting in the eighth smallest March ice coverage on record.

•In China, the Xinjiang province had its wettest March since records began in 1951, while Jilin and Shanghai had their second wettest March on record. Meanwhile, Guangxi and Hainan provinces in southern China experienced their driest March on record, according to the Beijing Climate Center.

•Many locations across Ontario, Canada received no snow, or traces of snow, in March, which set new low snowfall records, according to Environment Canada.

Scientists, researchers, and leaders in government and industry use NOAA’s monthly reports to help track trends and other changes in the world’s climate. This climate service has a wide range of practical uses, from helping farmers know what and when to plant, to guiding resource managers with critical decisions about water, energy and other vital assets.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the oceans to surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

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Save the Sharks from Shark-eating Man

Forget about the fear of man-eating sharks… it’s shark-eating man we need to be worried about:

DOHA, Qatar – Assistant Secretary of the Interior Tom Strickland today said he was disappointed that the parties to the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) did not vote to protect shark species that have been depleted by overharvest but expressed hope that a foundation has been laid to protect the species in the future.

“This is a significant setback for these marine species, but we view it as only a temporary setback. We will redouble our efforts with other countries around the world to fight for the protection of marine species imperiled by international trade,” said Strickland, who headed the U.S. delegation to CITES’ 15th Conference of Parties, which ended today.

The Parties to CITES completed their work by reconsidering a number of important species proposals during the final plenary session.

The United States asked the parties to re-open debate on the listing of three shark species including the scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini), great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran), and smooth hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena) because the proposal was only five votes short of adoption in Committee I.

The United States had amended the proposal to remove two other species of sharks and delay implementation for 24 months. The amended proposal was supported by the majority of parties, but did not have the two-thirds necessary for adoption.

During the brief discussion following the decision to reopen debate on the U.S. hammerhead shark proposal, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Colombia spoke in support of the U.S. proposal, and Japan, China and Grenada spoke in opposition. Grenada also called for a secret ballot which was granted after the required approval by ten Parties. The final vote was 76 in support, 53 opposed and 14 abstentions. The parties also voted to overturn the listing of the Porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) on Appendix II, a proposal adopted in Committee I earlier in the week.

The Parties also voted to reopen debate on the amended proposals on African elephant (Loxodonta Africana) submitted by Tanzania and Zambia. Both of those proposals were not adopted after debate. Egypt reopened debate on its amended downlisting proposal for the Egyptian population of the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) and it was adopted by consensus.

CITES is an international agreement initiated in 1973 and signed by more than 175 countries regulating global trade in imperiled wild animals and plants including their parts and products. A Conference of the Parties is held every 2-3 years to review, discuss, and negotiate changes in the management and control of trade in the various wildlife species covered by the agreement.

The Parties decided to hold the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Thailand.

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Environmentalist Held As Political Prisoner

News reaches The Sea Shepherd organization from Japan that Captain Pete Bethune of New Zealand will face no less than five separate charges related to his boarding of the illegal whaling vessel Shonan Maru No. 2, which occurred in the Southern Ocean on February 15, 2010 during Sea Shepherd’s sixth campaign to stop this barbaric poaching operation.

These charges are bogus, and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society questions the credibility of the entire Japanese judicial system for entertaining such absurdities.

On January 6, 2010, Captain Bethune’s ship, the Ady Gil, was intentionally run over and literally cut in two by the much larger Shonan Maru No. 2, endangering the lives of her six international volunteer crew. Captain Bethune’s response was to board that vessel at the next opportunity so he could confront face-to-face the captain responsible for this horrendous act.

Sea Shepherd expected Captain Bethune to face a trespassing charge; this does not come as a surprise. But all additional charges are being made for purely political reasons, to set an example of Captain Bethune for alleged actions that are absolutely trivial in comparison to those of the Shonan Maru No. 2—whose captain is not even being investigated by Japanese authorities after ramming and sinking another vessel at sea. This is an embarrassment to the Japanese criminal justice system, a further slap in the face to the international community, and proof that Japan will continue to do what it wants regardless of international law or public opinion. Illegal whaling operations in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and the detention of a political prisoner: these things clearly reflect the blatant abuse of and political corruption within Japan’s domestic judicial system.

Shame on Japan for blowing Captain Bethune’s case out of proportion, and shame on Japanese maritime authorities for failing to investigate the serious criminal actions of the Shonan Maru No. 2. Where are the charges against the captain of the Shonan Maru No. 2 for violently attacking the Sea Shepherd vessel Ady Gil?

Says Captain Chuck Swift, whose vessel the Bob Barker rescued the Ady Gil crew after the attack in January, “I watched the Shonan Maru No. 2 intentionally travel into and run over the Ady Gil, and thought my crew and I were going to be recovering injured and/or murdered crew. It is astounding that Japan is prosecuting Captain Bethune while ignoring the many crimes of its own illegal whaling fleet—and shameful that the world is allowing it to do so unchallenged.”

Captain Bethune’s home country, New Zealand, has also been surprisingly quiet regarding this arrest. Regardless of the government’s position, the citizens of New Zealand and around the world are rallying for Pete’s defense, wishing him a swift return to his wife and children.

To help stop the madness, please visit Sea Shepherd’s Support Captain Bethune page.

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