Environment

NASA confirms 2016 was the hottest year on record

NASA confirms 2016 was the hot...
NASA has released a report that says globally, 2016 was the hottest year on record, for the third year in a row
NASA has released a report that says globally, 2016 was the hottest year on record, for the third year in a row
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The NOAA outlines some of the major climate events of 2016
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The NOAA outlines some of the major climate events of 2016
NASA has released a report that says globally, 2016 was the hottest year on record, for the third year in a row
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NASA has released a report that says globally, 2016 was the hottest year on record, for the third year in a row
This graph visualizes the planet's long-term warming trend, listing the years that broke the records of their times on the right
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This graph visualizes the planet's long-term warming trend, listing the years that broke the records of their times on the right

Another year, another broken temperature record. As early data predicted, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have now reported that globally, 2016 was the warmest year since records began in 1880. That puts us on a streak of three years in a row that have surpassed previous records, painting a worrying picture of a long-term warming trend.

Taking a global average of surface temperatures, 2016 was found to be 1.78º F (0.99º C) warmer than the mean figures from the middle of the 20th century. Overall, the planet has warmed by about 2º F (1.1º C) since 1880, and the 16 years we've had of the 21st century so far are all in the top 17 hottest years on record.

This graph visualizes the planet's long-term warming trend, listing the years that broke the records of their times on the right
This graph visualizes the planet's long-term warming trend, listing the years that broke the records of their times on the right

Along with the dubious honor of hottest year so far, 2016 took a hammer to plenty of individual records too, with eight of its 12 months breaking the previous records for hottest average temperature for each respective month. A weak La Niña weather pattern may have slightly cooled things down later in the year, but the months of October to December were still among the warmest known.

"2016 is remarkably the third record year in a row in this series," says Gavin Schmidt, Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). "We don't expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear."

These records were set as a global average, which means that not every part of Earth would have experienced above-average temperatures for 2016. In the continental US, the annual mean temperature was the second warmest, while the Arctic was pummeled by a heatwave, resulting in record-low sea ice in the area. Variations like this may be responsible for skepticism of the kind that leads to Senators bringing snowballs onto the Senate floor.

The NOAA outlines some of the major climate events of 2016
The NOAA outlines some of the major climate events of 2016

This conclusion was reached by both NASA and NOAA independently, based on data gathered from 6,300 weather stations around the world, research stations in Antarctica and sea surface temperature observations from ships and buoys. From there, the two organizations use slightly different means of calculating their estimates, with NASA saying it's over 95 percent certain in claiming 2016 to be the warmest year on record.

Source: NASA, GISS, NOAA

19 comments
jade_goat
As a commenter on "watts up with that" says - "The Minoan, Egyptian, Roman and Medieval warm periods were all warmer than today. It’s been explained ... many times that you can’t compare rates between proxies which are 50+ year averages with modern records that record each year."
Tommo
jade_goat is misquoting, the summary of his/her quote is: "Overall, our conclusions are: a) Globally temperatures are warmer than they have been during the last 2,000 years, and b) the causes of Medieval warming are not the same as those causing late 20th century warming"
ripshin
Odd that la nina gets a shout-out, but el nino doesn't. El nino is clearly the driver behind the year's temporary temperature increase. how else could we explain the incredibly rapid drop in anomalies that were recorded once nino ended? rip
Bob
First, I don't doubt the warming trend but I do question it's severity and how unbiased the data may or may not be. In the past 100 years the hottest and coldest temperatures in the U.S. were in the 1930s. Since the widespread use of ACCURATE scientific measurement equipment is fairly recent, data from more than 50 years ago must be considered for what it is. Go to a hardware store and compare the temperatures on the outdoor thermometers. The variation will amaze you. I also question the motives of those who want to extend their governmental power and financial gain with doubtful cures. Since the economics of the world depends on cheap energy, high carbon taxes and expensive forced alternative energy will not be the way. When I see a new electric rail system being proposed and reasonably priced electric cars, then I will believe the proposed solutions are in the public's best interests rather than a select few in government and business.
CarlUsick
So the hottest year is hundredths of a degree hotter, even though the stated accuracy is a tenth of a degree, that's if one could accept that you know the temperature of the entire surface of the earth to even a degree or two, let alone over one hundred years. Wake me up when the adults are back in charge (hint, hint, 1-20-17).
Robert in Vancouver
I have lived 50 metres away from the Pacific Ocean for 43 years. Tide marks on the beach, rocks, and piers have not changed in 43 years. If there was global warming of any measurable degree, oceans would rise, but they haven't. Time to stop wasting money and effort on man-made global warming and focus on REAL problems, like cures for cancer, malaria, heart disease, etc.
almiller
My god a forest fire in Fort McMurray is listed as part of the hysteria!? Those who care to research issues know that weather monitoring stations are set up in urban heat sinks etc., etc., etc. Climate Gate etc.... Real scientists who base things on empirical evidence, not on a phony consensus must cringe. I find it very sad for the future of science as a field that it has been so politicized and so many have prostituted themselves for this political sham that while having been exposed keeps being pathetically driven.
Grumpyrelic
Yes, the 1930s were the warmest on record with 1931 probably being the warmest year. Are these the same people who say that the polar ice caps are melting? There is only one ice cap and that is in Antarctica where the average temperature is about - 58C. When has the temperature there risen to + 10C on average there? The north pole is covered with floating ice and in the 1400s Chinese ships crossed it because it melted. The NOAA and NASA have already been caught manipulating temperature data (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFyH-b3FRvE). While we are at it, how can CO2 occupying only 39/1000 of 1% of the earth's atmosphere cause the greenhouse effect. If you remove CO2, all life on this planet will cease. Will the real Chicken Little please stand up and leave the building?
MarcelHagener
The planet is warming up because we are burning fossil fuels like there is no tomorrow, chopping and burning down forests. We are polluting this place, trashing it. The US are still the biggest waste producers and energy wasters out there. But hey we are all guilty.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Morning lows (afternoon wet bulbs) are the salient measurements. These represent the heat energy (enthalpy) of the air, or the cost of air conditioning.