Government says 2016 was the warmest on record

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Scientists sounded an alarm about the third year in a row of record heat.

Scientists sounded an alarm about the third year in a row of record heat. Click to enlarge.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA declared 2016 the hottest year on record, breaking the previous year’s record heat for the third year in a row.

Average surface temperatures in 2016, according to NOAA, were 0.07 degrees warmer than 2015 and featured eight successive months (January through August) that were individually the warmest since the agency’s records began in 1880, the Washington Post reported.

The average temperature across the world’s land and ocean surfaces was 58.69 degrees or 1.69 degrees above the 20th-century average of 57 degrees, NOAA declared.

The agency also noted that the record for global temperature has now successively been broken five times since the year 2000. The years 2005 and 2010 were also record-warm years, according to the agency’s data set.

NASA concurred with NOAA, declaring 2016 the warmest year on record in its own data set, which tracks the temperatures at the surface of the planet’s land and oceans, and expressed “greater than 95 percent certainty” in that conclusion. (In contrast, NOAA gave a 62 percent confidence in the broken record.)

NASA found a bigger leap upward of temperatures in 2016, measuring the year as 0.22 degrees higher than the prior record year of 2015. The agency also noted that since the year 2001 the planet has seen “16 of the 17 warmest years on record.”

Last year “is remarkably the third record year in a row in this series,” Gavin Schmidt, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, said in a statement. “We don’t expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear.”

“2016 is a wakeup call in many ways,” Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist at the University of Arizona, told the newspaper. “Climate change is real, it is caused by humans and it is serious.”


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