2016 Was Earth’s Hottest Year on Record
2016 was the hottest year on Earth since record keeping began more than 130 years ago, and humans are mostly to blame, scientists reported today
Last year’s average temperatures over land and sea surfaces were the highest ever seen since 1880, and were 1.69 degrees Fahrenheit (0.94 degrees Celsius) above the 20th-century average, according to scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Across the planet, there was not a single land area that experienced lower-than-average temperatures for the year, they said.
In fact, 2016 marks the third consecutive record-warm year for the globe. Every month from January through August became the warmest such month on record, according to NOAA. Moreover, the 16 successive months from May 2015 to August 2016 either broke or tied the previous record for that month, the researchers said.
The poles are also feeling the heat. An estimate of the average annual sea-ice extent in 2016 in the Arctic was the lowest annual average on record: 3.92 million square miles (10.1 million square kilometres). The Arctic was almost 7.2 degrees F (4 degrees C) warmer in 2016 than it was in preindustrial times.
The El Niño (a climate cycle characterized by unusually warm temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean) that spanned 2015 and 2016 contributed to the warmer temperatures, but the vast majority of the warming — 90 percent — was due to human activity, mainly through the emission of greenhouse gases.