A short while ago the data showed that 2016 temperatures for the troposphere (upper air) were the highest on record. Today, we've got results for the surface, from NASA and NOAA.
You will not be surprised to know that 2016 was yet another hottest year ever recorded in the instrumental record, beating 2015 by 0.12 °C.
That's more than I expected. (2015 beat 2014 by 0.13 °C and that seemed a big jump.)
Dr Gavin Schmidt, Director of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS), NASA and Deke Arndt, Chief, Climate Monitoring Branch, NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina are currently giving a press conference to announce the annual average global surface temperature results and discuss the most important weather and climate events of the year.
This article is based on NASA GISTemp, and all data is shown as an anomaly from a 1881 to 1910 baseline instead of the 1951-1980 baseline. All that means is that the average temperature for the period 1881 to 1910 is taken as zero, and every year is shown as the difference from that zero baseline. It's mostly above the baseline. The last year below that baseline was in 1929, almost 90 years ago.
I've done it this way so that it's easier to see how much hotter it is now than at the beginning of the twentieth century. If you take the pre-industrial temperature as being not too different, you can also easily see how close we're getting to the 1.5 °C target. (Feel free to quibble. It's been argued the temperature averaged lower still up to the industrial revolution.)
It is now 107 years since there was a "coldest year on record". The last one was in 1909. See for yourself:
|Figure 1 | Annual global mean surface temperature. Anomaly from the 1881-1910 mean. Data source: GISS NASA.|
The average global temperature in 2016 was:
- 0.12 °C hotter than last year (2015)
- 0.25 °C hotter than in 2014
- 1.46 °C hotter than the coldest year in the record (1909)
- 0.35 °C hotter than the average for 1998
- 1.25 °C hotter than the 1881-1910 average.
Changes in 10 year averages
Because most people are interested in the pace of climate change, rather than year to year differences in weather, it helps to bracket the averages over ten year periods and compare them over time. The last three years in particular have been pulling the 10-year average upwards. Below is a chart showing changes for 10 year periods, starting from each year ending in 7 to each year ending in 6, with the last ten year period being 2007 to 2016 inclusive. The long term trend is up - it's getting hotter very quickly.
|Figure 3 | Global mean surface temperature in ten year averages. Anomaly from the 1881-1910 mean, from 1887-1896 to 2007-2016. Data source: GISS NASA|
Where did it get hot and where was it colder?
To see where it's been extra warm this past 12 months, here is the map from NOAA showing the land and ocean temperature percentiles, with the record warmest. The map only shows one spot with a record coldest. I've added some arrows.
|Figure 4 | January–December 2016 Blended Land and Sea Surface Temperature Percentiles Source: NOAA|
The map from NASA (below) shows anomalies - note that this time the anomalies are from the 1951 to 1980 mean.
|Figure 5 | Map showing mean surface temperature anomalies 2016, from the 1951-1980 mean. Source: GISS NASA|
The chart below is of latitude vs temperature anomaly and highlights the extraordinary rise in temperatures in the Arctic region.
Hottest years in order
The next chart shows the hottest years in order, starting with 2016 on the left. As the chart and the table underneath show, sixteen of the seventeen hottest years were this century.
|Figure 7 | Twenty hottest years on record. Anomaly from the 1881-1910. Data source: GISS NASA|
The table shows the hottest 17 years in order:
Anomaly from 1881-1910 mean (°C)
Watch the world warming
A video from NASA, showing the warming from 1880 to 2015. If there's an update I'll replace the video:
For anyone who still is unsure about global warming
If after all that, you're still not sure if the world is warming, here's a video with Gavin Schmidt, Director of GISS at NASA, explaining how we know it is. It's science: physics and chemistry (and biology) and observation - and not just observation of the land and ocean surface temperature.
References and further reading
- NASA, NOAA Data Show 2016 Warmest Year on Record Globally - Press release from NASA
- Slides from media briefing from NOAA
- Audio file of media briefing from NOAA
- 2016 is Earth's warmest year, culminating in a remarkable 3-year streak of record warm years for the globe - December global report from NOAA
- Global Analysis - Annual 2016 - annual global report from NOAA, January 2017
- GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) - NASA, with links to data
- How Close Are We to ‘Dangerous’ Planetary Warming? - article by Professor Michael Mann at Huffington Post
From the HotWhopper archives
- 2016 was the hottest year on record for the troposphere - January 2017
- 2015 is the hottest year on record by a massive 0.13°C - January 2016
- Three hottest evers in succession for lower troposphere - January 2016
- Confirmed - 2014 was the hottest year on record - January 2015
- Let's just clear this up once and for all. Last year was HOT! - January 2015