Weather and Natural Disasters

Report confirms 2016 was the hottest year on Earth — third record-breaking year in a row

Key Points
  • A new report confirms 2016 was the hottest year in 137 years of records.
  • Sea surface temperature and greenhouse gases saw record highs.
  • A strong El Nino also contributed.
Leaked government document 'directly contradicts' Trump on climate change, report says
Leaked government document 'directly contradicts' Trump on climate change, report says

A new international report has confirmed that 2016 was the hottest year for the planet in 137 years of record keeping.

It was the third year in a row to break the record.

This latest installment of the annual State of the Climate report attributes the new high to a strong El Nino and long-term global warming.

The report was released Thursday by the American Meteorological Society. Almost 500 scientists from more than 60 countries participated in the project, according to a news release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Global sea surface temperatures reached a new record high, and Arctic sea ice extent at the end of its annual growth season was at its lowest maximum level in the nearly 40 years of satellite records.

A father with his children walk over the cracked soil of a 1.5 hectare dried up fishery at the Novaleta town in Cavite province, south of Manila. The drought-inducing El Nino weather phenomenon continue to affect farmlands in the provinces resulting to more damaged crops.
Romeo Ranoco | Reuters

"Several countries, including Mexico and India, reported record high annual temperatures while many others observed near-record highs," the report said.

Every month, at least 12 percent of land surfaces were in severe drought conditions or worse — a record long stretch.

At the same time, the transition from one of the strongest El Nino patterns since at least 1950 led to wet conditions in many parts of the world, especially in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America.

Greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide rose to new record highs. The carbon dioxide concentration hit 402.9 parts per million, surpassing 400 parts per million for the first time in both the modern atmospheric record and in data from ice cores stretching back 800,000 years.

In what may be good news, ozone levels in the upper stratosphere have been increasing 2-4 percent every decade, since the late 1990s, which means the ozone layer may be recovering.