Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Data shows 2016 to be warmest year yet ... Are we going to make 2017 another record setter??


Record warm temperatures were seen all over the world in 2016, including the Arctic
Temperature data for 2016 shows it has edged ahead of 2015 as the world's warmest year. Data from Nasa and the UK Met Office shows temperatures were about 0.07 degrees Celsius above the 2015 mark. Nasa says that 2016 was the third year in a row to break the record.  The El Niño weather phenomenon played a role, say scientists, but the main factor was human emissions of CO2.
 So warm was the early part of 2016 - influenced by a powerful El Niño - that some leading climate scientists were predicting as early as May that a new record was likely.
During an El Niño, a band of unusually warm ocean water develops in parts of the Pacific. The phenomenon affects the climate globally, disrupting weather patterns.
 According to Nasa figures, 2016 is now the warmest year in a record that dates back to 1880.

Many parts of the world had their warmest recorded year in 2016
temp map

Another factor that has affected temperatures in 2016 is the unusual warmth in the Arctic. The sea-ice covering the Arctic reached its second lowest level (in terms of extent) in September 2016. The sea-ice grows in autumn and winter and shrinks each spring and summer. The smaller amount of ice now present in the region is at unprecedented low levels for the time of year.
"We understand the contribution El Niño makes fairly well and we've seen it many times," said Prof Ellie Highwood from the University of Reading.
"But even if you take that contribution away, we would expect 2015 and 2016 to still be the warmest years we've seen, so a majority of it is coming from global warming and the greenhouse effect."
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which pulls together temperature data from sources all over the world, agrees that 2016 broke the record by 0.07C.

Century dominated by records

When the new data on 2016 is included, 15 of the warmest years on record have now occurred since 2001.
This prolonged period of warming was having significant impacts around the world.

The Arctic region exceeded the long term average by up to 6C through most of 2016

"We have also broken sea ice minimum records in the Arctic and Antarctic," said Petteri Taalas from the WMO.
"The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average. The persistent loss of sea-ice is driving weather, climate and ocean circulation patterns in other parts of the world. We also have to pay attention to the potential release of methane from melting permafrost," he said.
Of great concern to scientists and politicians is the fact that the newly published temperature data shows the Earth is once again more than one degree warmer than pre-industrial times, and edging closer to the threshold of 1.5C set under the Paris climate pact. With the Trump administration about to take office in the US, there are concerns that political support for climate action might fade. This would be a big mistake according to scientists.
"Climate change is one of the great challenges of the 21st Century and shows no signs of slowing down," said Prof Mark Maslin, from University College London.
"The decarbonization of the global economy is the ultimate goal to prevent the worst effects of climate change. The hottest year on record is such a clear warning siren that even President-elect Trump cannot ignore it."
Researchers say that 2017 is unlikely to break the warming record but will be in the top five hottest years.
Take a visit to the desert, the hottest places on earth, and see how much vegetation grows there. Nothing. Get the picture?

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