A new report published by the World Meteorological Organization says that 2016 is likely to become the hottest year on record, meaning all 16 years of this century will have earned this distinction. The scientists behind the report warn that this precipitous increase in temperatures will bring about extreme weather and other impacts of climate change even sooner than expected.
The report, published at the global climate summit in Morocco, found that global temperatures were about 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Last year’s Paris climate agreement sets a target limit of 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
While El Nino played some role in high temperatures early in the year, climate change from greenhouse gases released by human activities was considered to be the primary cause.
Petteri Taalas, who is the WMO’s secretary-general, commented, “Another year. Another record. The extra heat from the powerful El Niño event has disappeared. The heat from global warming will continue.”
“It is almost as if mother nature is making a statement,” according to Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, who said:
“Just as one of the planet’s two largest emitters of carbon has elected a climate change denier – who has threatened to pull out of the Paris accord – to the highest office, she reminds us that she has the final word. Climate change is not like other issues that can be postponed from one year to the next. The US and world are already behind; speed is of the essence, because climate change and its impacts are coming sooner and with greater ferocity than anticipated.”
Donald Trump, who won the US presidential election on November 8th, has stated that climate change is a “hoax.” He dealt a shocking defeat to Hilary Clinton by winning the electoral college, while losing the popular vote.
2016 saw a number of record breaking heatwaves all over the world, with parts of Arctic Russia even seeing temperatures 6 to 7 degrees Celsius above average. Arctic sea ice also reached the second lowest extent in the satellite record in September.
2017 is will probably be much warmer than historical averages, but is not predicted to be another record breaker. Dr. Peter Stott from the UK’s Met Office explained, saying “As the El Niño wanes, we don’t anticipate that 2017 will be another record-breaking year. But 2017 is likely to be warmer than any year prior to the last two decades because of the underlying extent of warming due to the increasing atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.”