Hottest year not warmly wel­comed

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — The Earth set a se­ries of dire records in 2016, in­clud­ing for the hottest year in mod­ern times, high­est sea level and most heat-trap­ping gases ever emit­ted, a global cli­mate re­port said on Thurs­day.

A range of key cli­mate and weather in­di­ca­tors show the planet is grow­ing in­creas­ingly warm, a trend that shows no signs of slow­ing down, said the an­nual State of the Cli­mate Re­port.

“Last year’s record heat re­sulted from the com­bined in­flu­ence of long-term global warm­ing and a strong El Nino early in the year,” the re­port said.

“The ma­jor in­di­ca­tors of cli­mate change con­tin­ued to re­flect trends con­sis­tent with a warm­ing planet,” it added, not­ing that sev­eral mark­ers — such as land and ocean tem­per­a­tures, sea level and green­house gas con­cen­tra­tions in the at­mos­phere — broke records set one year ear­lier.

The omi­nous news comes two months af­ter US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­nounced the United States would with­draw from the 2015 Paris ac­cord on global warm­ing, a de­ci­sion that sparked wide­spread in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism.

In the past, bil­lion­aire Trump has called cli­mate change “a hoax” in­vented by China, dis­miss­ing sci­en­tific ev­i­dence of hu­man con­tri­bu­tions to ris­ing tem­per­a­tures.

But as hu­man­ity con­tin­ues to rely on fos­sil fu­els for en­ergy, un­prece­dented lev­els of green­house gases are pol­lut­ing the at­mos­phere, act­ing like a blan­ket to cap­ture heat around the Earth, the re­port em­pha­sized.

All the ma­jor green­house gases that drive warm­ing, in­clud­ing car­bon diox­ide, or CO2, meth­ane and ni­trous ox­ide, rose to new heights, it said.

At­mo­spheric CO2 con­cen­tra­tion reached 402.9 parts per mil­lion, sur­pass­ing 400 ppm for the first time in the mod­ern record and in ice-core records dat­ing back as far as 800,000 years.

“Cli­mate change is one of the most press­ing is­sues fac­ing hu­man­ity and life on Earth,” the re­port said.

The re­port con­firmed prior an­nounce­ments that 2016 was the hottest year since con­tem­po­rary records be­gan, mark­ing the third year in a row that global records were bro­ken plan­etwide. Both land and sea-sur­face tem­per­a­tures set new highs.

Ris­ing oceans

Melt­ing glaciers and po­lar ice caps swelled the world’s oceans, and global av­er­age sea level rose to a record high in 2016 — about 82 mil­lime­ters higher than the 1993 av­er­age.

Global sea lev­els have risen for six straight years, with the high­est rates of in­crease seen in the western Pa­cific and In­dian Oceans.

In the sen­si­tive po­lar re­gions, sea ice in both the Arc­tic and Antarc­tic hit record lows.

Land tem­per­a­tures warmed too — av­er­age Arc­tic land sur­face tem­per­a­ture was 2 C above the 1981-2010 av­er­age.

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