2016 was hottest year on record, global report confirms

Lukas Schulze  Getty Images

"Last year's record heat resulted from the combined influence of long-term global warming and a strong El Nino early in the year", said the report.

That's the diagnosis of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the American Meteorological Society, which released their annual State of the Climate report Thursday.

The temperature record had been reported in the beginning of the year by the United States and numerous other counterpart agencies around the world.

The draft report directly contradicted claims by the Trump administration that the contribution of human activity to climate change is uncertain and unpredictable.

It says that 2016 surpassed 2015 as the warmest year in 137 years of recordkeeping. In 2016, the average global temperature across land and ocean surface areas was 0.94 degrees Celsius (1.69 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average of 13.9 degrees Celsius (57.0 degrees Fahrenheit), according to NOAA.

Climate indicators include various types of greenhouse gases concentration, temperatures throughout the atmosphere, ocean and land, sea level, ocean salinity and snow cover to name a few. When anthropogenic warming is considered, the likelihood of three consecutive record-breaking years happening any time since 2000 rises to as high as 50 percent, according to the new study.

But as humanity continues to rely on fossil fuels for energy, unprecedented levels of greenhouse gases are polluting the atmosphere, acting like a blanket to capture heat around the Earth, the report emphasised.

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Global annual average atmospheric Carbon dioxide concentration was 402.9 parts per million (ppm) which surpassed 400 ppm for the first time in the modern atmospheric measurement record and in ice core records dating back as far as 800,000 years, the NOAA said.

Scientists are now trying to characterize the relationship between yearly record high temperatures and human-caused global warming.

A graph of the global mean surface temperature for the six-month period of January through June of each year from 1880-2016.

Northeastern Brazil marked its fifth consecutive year of drought, the longest dry spell on record in this region.

"Major indicators of climate change continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet", the report said.

The Antarctic, too, experienced record low sea ice coverage, and overall, there was less snow and ice on planet Earth than normal previous year.

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