Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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Earth sets a heat record for the third straight year

As with 2014 and 2015, Earth ended 2016 with a new heat record, making three straight years of record high temperatures, startling scientists who study global warming.

From the NYT (“Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year“)

It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row. …

… Of the 17 hottest years on record, 16 have now occurred since 2000. …

In 2015 and 2016, the planetary warming was intensified by the weather pattern known as El Niño, in which the Pacific Ocean released a huge burst of energy and water vapor into the atmosphere. But the bigger factor in setting the records was the long-term trend of rising temperatures, which scientists say is being driven by increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

“A single warm year is something of a curiosity,” said Deke Arndt, chief of global climate monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It’s really the trend, and the fact that we’re punching at the ceiling every year now, that is the real indicator that we’re undergoing big changes.” …

El Niño has now ended, and climate scientists almost universally expect 2017 to be cooler than the year before. But the scale of the heat burst has been startling to many of the experts, and some of them fear an accelerated era of global warming could be at hand over the next few years. …

NASA’s calculations suggested that the planet had warmed by well over a half-degree Fahrenheit from 2013 to 2016. That is a huge change for the surface of an entire planet to undergo in just three years, and it appears to be the largest temperature increase over a three-year period in the NASA record, which begins in 1880.

The Washington Post asked a 15 climate scientists for their reaction to this three-straight record (“Scientists react to Earth’s warmest year: ‘We are heading into a new unknown’“):

The great majority said 2016 offers further evidence that climate warming is real, driven by human activities, and is leading to consequential changes in extreme weather. Several urged action on the part of decision-makers.

A minority of respondents replied the global average surface temperature is limited as a metric and pointed to satellite temperatures which, while warming, show a less dramatic rise.

None questioned that 2016 was the warmest year in modern records.

Wed, January 18 2017 » * Big Picture Stuff, Main Page