Last year, the Earth sweltered under the hottest temperatures in modern times for the third year in a row, according to U.S. government scientists, raising new concerns about the quickening pace of climate change.
Records are being broken at a rapid pace
The global average temperature last year was 1.69° F above the 20th century average, and 0.07° F warmer than in 2015, the last record-setting year, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA said in its press release:
“The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2016 was the highest among all years since record keeping began in 1880. During the final month, the December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the third highest for December in the 137-year record.”
Although less than 2 degrees above average may sound small, it’s quite a large number in climate science, where records are often broken by tenths or even hundredths of degrees.
Please watch the following NASA video analysis of the 2016 global temperature:
A separate analysis of data from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) concurred with NOAA’s findings. NASA reported:
“Most of the warming has happened in the past 35 years, and 16 of the 17 warmest years have occurred since 2001.”
Reinforcing the two U.S. agencies’ conclusions are similar findings released by other researchers, including climate scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, the U.K. Met (Meteorological) Office, and Japan’s Meteorological Agency.
Regional data supports the 2016 global average
- All of North America was the warmest since records began in 1910, breaking that region’s last record set in 1998.
- Europe and Asia each saw their third hottest years on record, while Australia marked its fourth warmest year since records began more than a century ago.
- Unusual spikes in temperature were seen in Phalodi, India, which reached 124° F on May 19, marking India’s hottest temperature ever.
- Dehloran, Iran hit 127° F on July 22, a new national record.
- Mitribah, Kuwait hit an all-time high of 129° F on July 21, which may be the highest temperature ever recorded in all of Asia.
- Planet-wide, the heat led to more melting at the poles. In the Arctic, average annual sea ice extent was approximately 3.92 million square miles, the smallest annual average on record.
- In the Antarctic, annual sea ice extent was the second smallest on record, just behind 1986, at 4.31 million square miles.
The scientific community is clear on the cause of global warming
Scientific societies and scientists have released numerous statements and studies that have come to the same conclusion that global warming is happening and that human activity is the primary cause.
The scientific community has concluded that the main reason for the rise is man’s burning of fossil fuels — such as coal, oil, and gas — which send carbon dioxide, methane, and other pollutants known as “greenhouse gasses” into the atmosphere to warm the planet. The mounting toll of industrialization on the Earth’s natural balance is increasingly apparent in the record books.
Another factor has been the Pacific Ocean warming trend of El Niño, which experts say exacerbates the planet’s already rising warmth. However, the warming trend remains upward even with the elimination of El Niño in the equation.
Consequences of global warming and a potential solution
Unusually hot years wreak havoc on the planet by increasing heavy rainfall in some parts of the world while leading to drought in others, causing deadly floods, crop failures, and destructive fires. Fish and birds must migrate farther than ever to find suitable temperatures, putting pressure on populations. Diseases spreads faster in the warming oceans, harming marine life and killing corals. Glaciers and polar ice caps melt, leading to sea level rise that will eventually swallow many of the globe’s coastal communities, home to some one billion people.
Experts say the only solution is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels in favor of Earth-friendly renewable energy, such as wind and solar.
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