It’s official — 2016 is the hottest year on record, scientists confirmed Wednesday. Feel like you’ve heard this one before? You’re not mistaken.
The last warmest year on record was 2015, which crushed the previous high from — you guessed it — 2014.
With data now available through September, 2016 annual record (~1.25ºC above late 19th C) seems locked in. pic.twitter.com/Btp3Vutakn— Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin) October 17, 2016
We’re on an unprecedented three-year streak of hottest temperatures ever. Sound scary? Here are a few more staggering statistics:
- 11 of the last 12 consecutive months have set new high temperature records
- July and August not only beat records for their respective months, but they tied each other for another troublesome title: warmest month ever recorded
- Seven of the last 12 months have had temperatures more than 1 degree Celsius above average. This is a first in 136 years of record keeping
To put all of those figures in perspective, it’s been almost a century since we’ve seen a record cold month. The last one happened in December 1916.
The Link To Carbon Emissions
This trend shows no sign of stopping, either. Earth’s rising temperatures are largely tied to an increase in carbon emissions.
Levels of atmospheric carbon are the highest they’ve ever been, and they're unlikely to fall below this measurement again.
"We’re seeing climate changes at the more pessimistic end of the range that [was] anticipated by scientists,” President Obama said at South by South Lawn earlier this month. “So we’re really in a race against time."
And as global temperatures continue to rise, we’ll continue to see the devastating effects:
- Forest fires will continue to grow in regularity and severity
- Hurricanes will become more destructive
- Mega-drought will almost certainly strike the American Southwest
It’s unlikely the level of carbon emissions will drop, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. We can keep carbon emissions in place and expand the use of renewable energy, among other steps.
Update: This story has been updated to reflect current information.