Scientists have reported that 2016 is the hottest year on Earth since record keeping started in 1880 — and it is the third year in a row to set a new record for average global temperatures.
The average temperatures last year were the highest recorded since over 130 years ago: 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average according to NASA, and 1.69 degrees Fahrenheit above the same period’s average according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
These recorded temperatures “continue a long-term warming trend,” scientists from NASA said in a statement.
Across Earth too, there was not a single land area that enjoyed lower-than-average temperatures last year, warned NOAA. The year 2016, in fact, marked the third consecutive warmest year on record globally, with the months from January to August emerging as the warmest on record.
The Poles Feel The Heat
"This was the third year in a row in our analysis to set a new record. That happened only once before in our record, and that was in the years 1939 through 1941, which now don't even fit in the top 30 [warmest years] of the record,” explained Deke Arndt, global monitoring chief at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, at a press briefing.
The poles felt the brunt of this warming trend, with the estimated average yearly sea-ice extent last year in the Arctic appearing to be the lowest annual average on data. It was 3.92 million square miles, the National Snow and Ice Data Center revealed.
The Arctic was nearly 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit hotter last year than in preindustrial period, a “very large change” according to Goddard Institute for Space Studies director Gavin Schmidt.
Not Just El Niño: Humans Are To Blame Too
The El Niño phenomenon, a climate cycle marked by abnormally warm temperatures in the Pacific, raged through 2015 and 2016 and contributed to the record temperatures. Phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña warm or cool the upper tropical Pacific Ocean and result in corresponding global wind and weather pattern variations.
However, 90 percent of the warming was because of human activity, primarily via greenhouse gas emissions, Schmidt said further.
The scientists used global climate models to probe how various factors such as solar changes, volcanic impacts, changes in Earth’s orbit, and man-made effects such as greenhouse gases played a part in climate change.
They analyzed not just surface air temperatures but also the data from the upper atmosphere, stratosphere, and deep ocean.
What they discovered: the natural factors’ contribution to the record heat is so close to zero, with the long-term trend being seen today surfacing as the consequence of human activity. It’s dominantly the climb in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, Schmidt added.
Tech Times previously reported that in the United States, 2016 ranked second warmest in records dating back 1895, with every single state and city in the Lower 48 states getting warmer than usual last year. Average temperature in the country last year was 54.9 degrees Fahrenheit, which was nearly 3 degrees higher than long-term average.