2016: Hottest Year Ever?
This year may be only half over, but 2016 is already on track to be the hottest year ever on record, with each of the first six months, from January to June, setting new temperature records, NASA officials announced this week. For the first time, NASA shared a midyear climate analysis, doing so because temperature averages this year have been so in excess of previous data.
NASA’s data showed that each month in 2016 was the warmest respective month globally in the modern temperature record, which dates to 1880. This trend suggests 2016 will surpass 2015 as the hottest year on record, NASA said.
So far this year, the planet’s average temperature has been 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit (1.3 degrees Celsius) warmer than the late 19th century. In 2009, international climate negotiators agreed in the Copenhagen Accord that warming should not increase more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) this century. The Accord’s temperature threshold was put in place to hopefully avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
A strong El Niño this past year did contribute to these temperatures, but Schmidt said the continued warming trend is mostly due to the effects of greenhouse gases. While the impacts of El Niño will dissipate by 2017, leaving temperatures slightly lower than this year, Schmidt said 2017 will still average to 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F) above the pre-industrial average.