Hot. Hot. Hot.

NOAA of­fi­cial says what’s more im­por­tant than any sin­gle record is the multi-decade “clear warm­ing trend since the late 20th cen­tury.”

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD - By Seth Borenstein

Earth siz­zled to a third-straight record hot year in 2016, with sci­en­tists mostly blam­ing man-made global warm­ing with help from a nat­u­ral El Niño that’s now gone. Two U.S. agen­cies and in­ter­na­tional weather groups re­ported Wed­nes­day that last year was the warm­est on record. They mea­sure global tem­per­a­tures in slightly dif­fer­ent ways, and came up with a range of in­creases, from mi­nus­cule to what top Amer­i­can cli­mate sci­en­tists de­scribed as sub­stan­tial.

They’re “all singing the same song even if they are hit­ting dif­fer­ent notes along the way. The pat­tern is very clear,” said Deke Arndt of the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

NOAA cal­cu­lated that the av­er­age global tem­per­a­ture for 2016 was 58.69 de­grees — beat­ing the pre­vi­ous year by 0.07 de­grees.

NASA’s fig­ures, which in­clude more of the Arc­tic, are higher at 0.22 de­grees warmer than 2015. The Arc­tic “was enor­mously warm, like to­tally off the charts com­pared to ev­ery­thing else,” said Gavin Sch­midt, di­rec­tor of NASA’s God­dard In­sti­tute of Space Stud­ies in New York, where the space agency mon­i­tors global tem­per­a­tures.

The British me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal of­fice de­ter­mined that 2016 barely beat 2015 by 0.018 de­grees. The World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion and other mon­i­tor­ing groups agreed that 2016 was a record, with the in­ter­na­tional weather agency chief Pet­teri Taalas say­ing “tem­per­a­tures only tell part of the story” of ex­treme warm­ing.

The fig­ures are based on ground-level tem­per­a­tures. Satel­lite cal­cu­la­tions also showed that it was the warm­est year, Sch­midt said.

“This is clearly a record,” he said. “We are now no longer only look­ing at some­thing that only sci­en­tists can see, but is ap­par­ent to peo­ple in our daily lives.”

Tem­per­a­ture records go back to 1880. This is the fifth time in a dozen years that the globe has set a new an­nual heat record. Records have been set in 2016, 2015, 2014, 2010 and 2005.

Arndt said the 0.07 dif­fer­ence for 2016 is ac­tu­ally one of the largest NOAA has seen be­tween record years. What’s more im­por­tant than any sin­gle record is the multi-decade “clear warm­ing trend since the late 20th cen­tury,” said Arndt, NOAA’s cli­mate mon­i­tor­ing chief.

Sch­midt said his cal­cu­la­tions show most of the record heat was from heat-trap­ping gases from the burn­ing of oil, coal and gas. Only about 12 per­cent was the re­sult of El Niño, which is a pe­ri­odic warm­ing of parts of the Pa­cific that change weather glob­ally, he said.

Arndt put the El Niño fac­tor closer to a quar­ter or a third.

El Niño dis­ap­peared in June. Without it, Sch­midt said, this year prob­a­bly won’t break any records, although it should be in the top five warm­est.

NOAA cal­cu­lated that last year was the warm­est year on record in the oceans, the Arc­tic and North Amer­ica. The av­er­age amount of ice in the Arc­tic Ocean reached a record low for 2016, Arndt said.

Ac­cord­ing to NOAA, 2016 was 1.69 de­grees warmer than the 20th cen­tury av­er­age.

The first eight months of 2016 all broke heat records. NASA has last year at 1.78 de­grees warmer than the NASA-cal­cu­lated mid-20th cen­tury av­er­age and about 2 de­grees warmer than the start of the in­dus­trial age, in the late 19th cen­tury.

“Of course this is cli­mate change; it’s over­whelm­ingly cli­mate change,” said Corinne Le Quere, di­rec­tor of Eng­land’s Tyn­dall Cen­tre for Cli­mate Change Re­search, who wasn’t part of the NOAA or NASA teams. “Warm­ing (is) nearly ev­ery­where. The Arc­tic sea ice is col­laps­ing. Spikes in fires from the heat. Heavy rain­fall from more water va­por in the air.”

The ef­fects are more than just records, but ac­tu­ally hurt peo­ple and the en­vi­ron­ment, said Univer­sity of Ok­la­homa me­te­o­rol­ogy pro­fes­sor Ja­son Fur­tado. They’re “harm­ful on sev­eral lev­els, in­clud­ing hu­man wel­fare, ecol­ogy, eco­nomics, and even geopol­i­tics,” he said.

Lukas Schulze, Getty Im­ages

Steam and ex­haust rise from fac­to­ries on Jan. 6 in Ober­hausen, Ger­many. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports re­leased by Amer­i­can and in­ter­na­tional mon­i­tor­ing agen­cies, 2016 was the hottest year since global tem­per­a­tures started to be recorded — in the 19th cen­tury.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.