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The Tale of Two Marches

March 20 marks the vernal equinox, although the weather may not feel much like spring with cooler than average temperatures in many parts of the country.

The conditions couldn’t be more different than last year this time. By March 19, 2012, more than 2,200 warm-temperature records had been set or tied across the U.S. That is about 1,000 more than have been set or tied so far this March. By comparison, this month feels like a dud. And more than a few winter storms have crept their way towards the first day of spring.

All told, 2013 is much closer to an average year than 2012 was. But a normal, or even a cold year, doesn’t mean that the process of global warming has slowed down. According to a draft of the latest National Climate Assessment report released in January, global annual average temperatures have climbed by more than 1.4°F since 1880, fueled in large part by human-caused greenhouse gases.