More sobering news this week from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The organization has released it annual State of the Climate report, and it includes some not so surprising data. Spanning more than 298 pages, the document indicates what a lot of us probably knew already: 2016 is the warmest year on record over the course of the 137 years that such data has been tracked.
The biggest take away from the report, which is peer-reviewed for accuracy, is that carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere were measured at 402.9 parts per million. That is also the highest on record, but perhaps most startling of all is that it is the first time in 800,000 years that CO2 levels have risen above the 400 parts per million mark.
El Nino played a significant role in driving surface temperatures higher, but there were a number of other records set as well. According to the report, the global average for sea surface temperature, sea level, and the temperature of the lower atmosphere all reached record highs. Meanwhile the Antarctic sea-ice extent dropped to record lows as the impact of our warming planet took its toll on the ice.
The news of the record warm temperatures for 2016 follows two successive record breaking years in 2014 and 2015 as well. While that is not enough scientific data to indicate a trend as of yet, it also seems like more than a coincidence too. Our planet is, without a doubt, warming. It doesn’t matter whether it is manmade or a natural phenomenon at this point. Debate on that topic has long ago set sail. Now, we just need to start doing more to help reverse this tide of increasing heat and start looking at ways that we can protect ourselves against the changes it will bring.
Read more about the state of our climate here.
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