USA report confirms 2016 as warmest year on record

Lukas Schulze  Getty Images

Lukas Schulze Getty Images

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a leading environmental agency which is part of the United States federal government, found that global temperatures were warmer last year than in 137 years of recordkeeping for a third consecutive year - surpassing the previosu record of 2015.

The authors of the leaked study disagree with that stance, writing in the report: "Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change".

The rising temperature, the report said, stems from last year's El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean as well as the planet's long-term warming trend.

Globally, sea level hit a record high past year, marking the sixth consecutive annual increase. That's not only a record in modern observations, but more than has been found in ice cores dating back 800,000 years.

Global sea levels achieved a new record high in 2016, the sixth year in a row that Earth has seen an increase in sea levels.

The global report, State of the Climate in 2016, was compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is based on contributions from almost 500 scientists from more than 60 countries. The temperature of the region of the atmosphere just above the Earth's surface, known as the troposphere, was also the highest on record, as was the global average for the surface of the sea.

Scientists are now trying to characterize the relationship between yearly record high temperatures and human-caused global warming.

This represents a 6.3F (3.5C) increase since records began in 1900.

A general increase in the water cycle (the process of evaporating water into air and condensing it as rain or snow), combined with the strong El Niño, enhanced the variability of precipitation around the world.

During August and November, record low daily and monthly sea ice extents were observed, with the November average sea ice extent significantly smaller (more than 5 standard deviations) than the 1981-2010 average. When anthropogenic warming is considered, the likelihood of three consecutive record-breaking years happening any time since 2000 rises to as high as 50 percent, according to the new study. The numbers are the differences from the pre-industrial era, calculated as the average mean surface temperature of 1880-1899.

In 2016, meteorologists recorded 93 named tropical storms worldwide - above the 1981 to 2010 average of 82, but fewer than the 101 storms in 2015.

Preliminary data indicate that 2016 was the 37th consecutive year of overall alpine glacier retreat across the globe, with an average loss of 2.8 feet (852 mm) for the reporting glaciers.

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