NASA has declared this year to be the hottest year yet recorded. September turned out to be the warmest in modern temperature monitoring of 137 years. The recent findings follow record-breaking monthly anomalies throughout this year, leading the agency to believe that because of the highs reported so far.
The first nine months of 2016, as reported by NASA, were characterized by much-warmer-than-average conditions across most of the globe’s surface, resulting in the warmest January–September period in the 137-year record, at 0.89°C (1.60°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.5°F). This value exceeded the previous record set in 2015 by 0.13°C (0.23°F).
Much-warmer-than-average conditions engulfed the vast majority of the world’s land surfaces during the January–September period, with a globally-averaged land surface temperature 2.84°F (1.58°C) above the 20th century average of 9.0°C (48.1°F), besting the previous record set in 2015 by 0.30°C (0.50°F). Record warmth for this period was notable across Alaska and western Canada, southern Mexico into Central America, much of northern South America, large parts of eastern, south central, and southwestern Africa, central Asia and parts of northern Russia, and the islands of southeastern Asia.
The average global sea surface temperature for the year-to-date was the highest for January–September at 0.78°C (1.40°F) above average, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.08°C (0.14°F).
Dr. Ajit Tyagi, former Director General, IMD informed G’nY and said that, “CO2 emissions are a major contributor to this constant rise in temperature. WMO’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin further predicted that 2016 will be the first year ever in which CO2 remains above 400 ppm all through the year.”
September 2016 was 0.91oC above the average temperature for that time of year from 1951 to 1980, the benchmark used for measuring rises. It was only just over the previous record, coming in at a razor-thin 0.004oC above the previous high for the time of year, reached in September 2014.
These temperatures are surface temperatures that are taken across the globe. But, you can measure temperatures elsewhere and see the same result. Most importantly, measurements in the oceans, where 93 per cent of the extra heat is stored are the best proof of global warming.
The average global temperature across land surfaces for September was 1.29°C (2.32°F) higher than the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F)—the highest September global land temperature on record, besting the previous record set in 2015 by 0.11°C (0.20°F).
For the oceans, the September globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average of 16.2°C (61.1°F), tying with 2014 as the second highest on record for the month, behind only 2015. Including October, the five highest September global ocean temperatures have all occurred in the past five years.
2015 was the hottest year since modern records began, brought about in part by a strong El Niño event, a Pacific weather system that can affect sea and air temperatures around the world, but also by strong underlying trends. For the year 2016, heat has continued to be affected by the tail-end of the El Niño but the system has now dissipated.
On the other hand, Dr. Nityanand Singh, Scientist-F and Head, Climatology & Hydrometeorology Division, IITM told G’nY that, “Northern hemisphere is cooling while the southern hemisphere is warming. But some parts in the northern hemisphere is warming while some areas in the southern hemisphere is cooling. We cannot go about claiming that each year is getting warmer overall just by reading figures. We need to have elaborated global 3D structures to come to such conclusions.”
The main message is that there are still things we can do to bend the arc of this curve. There are actions we can take as individuals and as collectives to reduce our emissions and our dependence on polluting fuels.