Temperatures on the surface of the Earth in 2016 were the warmest since modern record-keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the USA.
Globally-averaged temperatures in 2016 were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century mean.
This makes 2016 the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.
The 2016 temperatures continue a long-term warming trend, according to analyses by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. NOAA scientists concur with the finding that 2016 was the warmest year on record based on separate, independent analyses of the data.
Because weather station locations and measurement practices change over time, there are uncertainties in the interpretation of specific year-to-year global mean temperature differences. However, even taking this into account, NASA estimates 2016 was the warmest year with greater than 95 percent certainty.
“2016 is remarkably the third record year in a row in this series,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. “We don’t expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear.”
The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change attributed to increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that make up the year – from January through September, with the exception of June – were the warmest on record for those respective months.
October, November, and December of 2016 were the second warmest of those months on record – in all three cases, behind records set in 2015.
NASA’s analyses incorporate surface temperature measurements from 6,300 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures, and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations.
These raw measurements are analysed using an algorithm that considers the varied spacing of temperature stations around the globe and urban heating effects that could skew the conclusions. The result of these calculations is an estimate of the global average temperature difference from a baseline period of 1951 to 1980.
NOAA scientists used much of the same raw temperature data, but with a different baseline period, and different methods to analyze Earth’s polar regions and global temperatures.
NASA shares this knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting the Earth.
The full 2016 surface temperature data set and the complete methodology used to make the temperature calculation is available at: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp
Juliet Davenport, Chief Executive of British renewable energy supply company Good Energy, commented: “This should be a huge wake up call to governments that there can be no delay in delivering on the promises made in Paris – our climate is changing and it’s having an immediate effect.
“The news underlines the importance of the Government’s upcoming Emissions Reduction Plan. The UK needs a unified, urgent approach to cutting emissions and shifting to a low-carbon economy.”
The Scot-Govt. is due to announce its latest climate-change policy in a statement tomorrow (19 January 2017) by Scottish Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham, MSP.