Global temperature ratchets up another notch
Just a few days into the new year, European climate experts confirmed that 2016 is the warmest year on record since humans started tracking the climate. The analysis from C3S, part of the EU’s Copernicus earth observation program, show that 2016’s global temperature was about 1.3 degrees Celsius higher than typical for the middle years of the 18th century. 2016 was close to 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than 2015, which was previously the warmest year on record.
Amid global efforts to cap greenhouse gas emissions, the European agency warned once again that global warming is upping the odds for extreme weather events likeheatwaves, droughts and floods. Future warming could cause billions of dollars worth of damage each year and affect the availability of fresh water and crop yields in the most vulnerable countries.
“We are already seeing around the globe the impacts of a changing climate,” said Director of ECMWF’s Copernicus Services Juan Garcés de Marcilla. “Land and sea temperatures are rising along with sea-levels, while the world’s sea-ice extent, glacier volume and snow cover are decreasing; rainfall patterns are changing and climate-related extremes such as heatwaves, floods and droughts are increasing in frequency and intensity for many regions. The future impact of climate change will depend on the effort we make now, in part achieved by better sharing of climate knowledge and information.”
The analysis found that global temperatures in February 2016 already touched the 1.5 degree Celsius limit during the heart of a strong climate warming El Niño. Global temperatures still remained well above average in the second half of 2016, associated partly with exceptionally low sea-ice cover in both the Arctic and Antarctic.
Most regions around the world experienced above-average temperatures during 2016. The largest differences in regional average temperatures were found in the Arctic but conditions were also extreme over southern Africa early in the year, over southern and south-eastern Asia prior to the summer monsoon, over the Middle East later in summer, and over parts of North America in summer and autumn.
In addition to record temperatures, ECMWF’s Copernicus Services monitored other extremes occurring in 2016, including significant global wildfires andincreasing CO2 and then extensive wildfires across Siberia, associated with the year’s high surface temperatures, during June and July.
For the first year CO2 levels did not return below 400 ppm as summer turned to autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. In previous years, take-up of CO2 by vegetation during the summer growing season has typically seen September mark the lowest point for CO2 levels.
Copernicus temperature data are based on millions of diverse daily measurements analysed by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) using methods developed for weather forecasting. The Copernicus Climate Change Service website can be found at https://climate.copernicus.eu/ The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service website can be found at http://atmosphere.copernicus.eu/.