Government scientists say the Earth sizzled to a third straight heat record last year.
They mostly blame human-made global warming with help from a natural El Niño, which has since disappeared.
The figures announced Wednesday come from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which measure global temperatures in slightly different ways. They said last year passed 2015 as the hottest year going back to 1880.
NOAA calculated that the average global temperature last year was 58.69 degrees, beating the previous year by 0.07 degrees.
NASA’s measurements include more of the Arctic, which was warmer than usual. The agency said last year was 0.22 degrees warmer than 2015.
The Arctic “was enormously warm, like totally off the charts compared to everything else,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, where the space agency monitors global temperatures.
Schmidt said his calculations show most of the record heat was from heat-trapping gases from the burning of oil, coal and gas. Only about 12 percent was due to El Niño, a periodic warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean that changes weather globally, he said.
“Of course this is climate change, it’s overwhelmingly climate change,” said Corinne Le Quéré, director of England’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, who wasn’t part of the NOAA or NASA teams. “Warming [is] nearly everywhere. The Arctic sea ice is collapsing. Spikes in fires from the heat. Heavy rainfall from more water vapor in the air.”
This is the fifth time in a dozen years that the globe has set a new annual heat record. Records have been set in 2016, 2015, 2014, 2010 and 2005.