2016 temperature difference from normal. (NOAA)
The warming of the Earth’s climate is indisputable.
A new international climate change report, prepared by 450 scientists from more than 60 countries, has published trends from thousands of data sets that — across the board — present a clear-cut picture of a warming world.
Led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the report revealed that heat-trapping gases, global temperatures, ocean heat content, and sea levels reached record or near-record highs in 2016. It is the 27th version of the report, titled State of the Climate in 2016, and is being published as a special 280-page supplement in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
NOAA released the report documenting irrefutable evidence of global warming, even as President Trump and high-level members of his administration have expressed skepticism about the phenomenon, especially the human role.
Five indicators from the report, in particular, offer a particularly compelling illustration of the changing composition of the Earth’s atmosphere and the warming that has occurred in lockstep.
1. Concentrations of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, are rising and hit a record high in 2016
Via NOAA: “The global average concentration of carbon dioxide hit a record high in 2016. The increase from 2015 to 2016 was 3.5 ± 0.1 ppm — the largest one-year increase in the modern record.”
2. Global surface temperatures are rising and hit a record high in 2016
Via NOAA: “In 2016, the global surface temperature was 0.45°–0.56°C (0.8°–1.0°F) above the 1981 — 2010 average — a record high, according to multiple independent data sets.”
3. The number of extremely hot days are increasing worldwide.
Via NOAA: “As the global average temperature has risen, so has the number of extremely hot days that occur each year. This graph tracks the changing frequency of days on which the temperature was in the 90th percentile of the historical record since 1950.”
4. Sea levels are rising and hit a record high in 2016
Via NOAA: “Sea level hit a record high in 2016. Independent estimates show that waters are rising due to meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets (blue line) plus thermal expansion (red line) of the ocean water as it warms (red line).”
5. Mountain glaciers are retreating
Via NOAA: “This graph shows glacier mass balance — the difference between ice lost through melting and ice gained through new snowfall — each year since 1980 (blue bars) for the 44 glaciers in the World Glacier Monitoring Service’s reference network.”
Supplementing these charts, Climate Central, the nonprofit science communication firm in Princeton, N.J., created these visuals illustrating some additional key findings from the report:
1. The United States had its second-warmest year on record
Via Climate Central: “The 2016 average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 54.9°F, which was 2.2°F above the 1981-2010 average, this is the second warmest since records began. Since 1970, the rate of warming has increased to 0.5°F per decade.”
2. The 10 hottest years on record for the planet have occurred since 1998
Via Climate Central: “2016 was the globally averaged hottest year on record, surpassing 2015. The record warmth resulted from the combined influence of long-term global warming and a strong El Niño early in the year. Then 10 hottest years on record have all come since 1998.”
3. Ocean temperatures in 2016 are rising and hit a record high in 2016
Via Climate Central: “Globally averaged sea surface temperatures were the highest on record in 2016. Global sea level was also the highest on record. The rate of warming and the rate of sea level rise in the global oceans are both accelerating.”