Global Warming

2016 as hottest year on record

The federal government confirmed 2016 as the planet’s warmest year on record, according to a report released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The combined influence of long-term global warming and a strong El Niño early in the year led to last year’s all-time record heat, NOAA said.

While El Niño is a natural warming of Pacific Ocean water, man-made global warming is caused by greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal.

The amount of carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases, in the atmosphere climbed to its highest level in 800,000 years, the report found.

The report also noted other signs of a warming planet in 2016:

Greenhouse gases were the highest on record. Sea-surface temperatures were the highest on record. Global upper ocean heat content near-record high. Global sea level was the highest on record. Antarctic had a record low sea ice extent.

Global warming makes expedition to ice-locked North Pole possible

Two specially-equipped sailboats are attempting a voyage that’s never been done before – a trip to the North Pole. Led by a British explorer, the international crew has moved the boats from their home in Sitka up to Nome, where they’re hoping to launch for their journey to the Pole this weekend. Melting sea ice in the Arctic could make their voyage possible for the first time in history.


Global Warming

Sea Ice Around Antarctica Declines in 2015 Peak

The sea ice around Antarctica grew to its annual peak on Oct. 6 but showed a sharp decline from the record coverage of recent years.

NASA says this year’s maximum fell roughly in the middle of what has been measured during the past 37 years of satellite observations.

Scientists said the developing El Niño probably had a strong influence on this year’s sea ice.

Rather than being in sharp contradiction to a warming climate, a greater amount of ice ringing Antarctica in the recent past has been linked to climate change.

Stronger southern hemisphere winds due to a warmer climate appear to have caused the floating ice to bunch up around Antarctica rather than drifting northward and melting.

“After three record high extent years, this year marks a return toward normalcy for Antarctic sea ice,” said Walt Meier, a sea ice scientist at Goddard.

“There may be more high years in the future because of the large year-to-year variation in Antarctic extent, but such extremes are not near as substantial as in the Arctic, where the declining trend towards a new normal is continuing,” Meier added.

Satellite data composite of Antarctic sea ice maximum on October 6, 2015.