Year 2016 confirmed as warmest on record
“Global temperatures still remained well above average in the second half of 2016"
The year 2016 is confirmed as the warmest year on the planet since record-keeping began, Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service said Jan. 5. The agency, based in Reading, England, said 2016 was 0.2 C warmer than 2015, which was previously the warmest year on record.
And the Copernicus centre’s analysis shows that global temperatures in 2016 were 1.3 C greater than in the mid-18th century, when the Industrial Revolution started.
Peak temperatures were reached in February 2016 when the global average temperature was 1.5 C greater than the mid-18th century.
“Global temperatures still remained well above average in the second half of 2016, associated partly with exceptionally low sea-ice cover in both the Arctic and Antarctic,” the Copernicus agency said.
The agency said most regions around the world experienced above average temperatures throughout 2016.
“The largest differences in regional average temperatures were found in the Arctic but conditions were also extreme over southern Africa early in the year, over southern and south-eastern Asia prior to the summer monsoon, over the Middle East later in summer, and over parts of North America in summer and autumn,” the release said.
That in turn was accompanied by extreme events like wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alta. and across Siberia.
“Land and sea temperatures are rising along with sea-levels, while the world’s sea-ice extent, glacier volume and snow cover are decreasing; rainfall patterns are changing and climate-related extremes such as heatwaves, floods and droughts are increasing in frequency and intensity for many regions,” Juan Garcés de Marcilla, the agency’s director of weather forecasting, said in the release.
Also, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere did not decrease in the fall, as they usually do, due to uptake by forests.
To do its analysis, the Copernicus centre used data from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency and the Hadley Centre at the UK Met office.
Their analysis was also confirmed by the Earth System Science Centre at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
But Dr. John Christy, the director of the centre, cautioned that the El Nino effect played a role in the temperature spike of 2016, as it did in 1998.
As for Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extent, December 2016 set record low extents every day, continuing a trend that began in November, the National Snow and Ice Data Center said Jan. 5.
“For the year 2016, sea ice extent in both polar regions was at levels well below what is typical of the past several decades,” the NSIDC said.
That month, the extent of sea ice in the Arctic was the second lowest on record, but in places that experienced a late seasonal freeze-up, like Hudson Bay, the Chukchi Sea and the Kara Sea, grew faster than in November.
But seven months in 2016 saw record low sea ice extent in the Arctic: January, February, April, May, June, October, and November.