2016 Sets Global Heat Record For 3rd Straight Year, Raising Alarms of Irreparable Threats
FlaglerLive | January 18, 2017
It was not an illusion. Florida felt the record heat.
Orlando’s temperature average for 2016 was 1.80 degrees above normal in 2016. From late November through December, it was 5, 6 and 7 degrees above normal day after day.
Jacksonville was 1.27 degrees above normal for the year. Daytona Beach was 1.76 degrees above normal, with three record highs along the way–89 in March (which tied a record), 96 in August, and 86 just three weeks ago, the latter two setting new record highs. Gainesville was 1.63 degrees above normal, setting a new record of 86 for December a few weeks ago. And Tallahassee? A whopping 3.04 degrees above normal for the year, with four records tied or broken along the way.
That’s in Florida. The planet hasn’t fared better. Last year was the hottest year on record. Average global temperatures broke the record for the third straight year. Records have been breaking frequently since 1980 for the past decade and a half, but three years in a row of broken records has never happened before, raising alarms about increasing threats posed to civilization by a warming climate.
For eight consecutive months, January to August, the globe experienced record warm heat, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports, sending the annual global average surface temperature in 2016 to the highest level since record keeping began in 1880. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001.
On Friday, the nation will witness the inauguration of Donald Trump, who has called “the concept of global warming” a Chinese plot to hurt American manufacturing, and in December 2015 called a lot of global warming talk “a hoax” and a “money-making industry.” Gov. Rick Scott has shown little inclination to disagree.
The overwhelming majority of scientists, particularly scientists not paid by the fossil-fuel industry, disagree.
The average temperature on the planet 2016 was 58.69 degrees Fahrenheit, NOAA reports, or 1.69 degrees above the 20th century average. This surpassed last year’s record by 0.07 degrees. Since the start of the 21st century, the annual global temperature record has been broken five times (2005, 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016).
Despite the cooling influence of a weak La Nina in the latter part of the year, the year ended with the third warmest December on record for the globe, and an extremely warm December for Florida, with an average temperature 1.42 degrees above the 20th century average.
“We don’t expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear,” Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said.
The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere–industry and the burning of furl for transportation the chief culprits.
Phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña, which warm or cool the upper tropical Pacific Ocean and cause corresponding variations in global wind and weather patterns, contribute to short-term variations in global average temperature. A warming El Niño event was in effect for most of 2015 and the first third of 2016. Researchers estimate the direct impact of the natural El Niño warming in the tropical Pacific increased the annual global temperature anomaly for 2016 by 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Even at current temperatures, billions of tons of land ice are melting or sliding into the ocean,” The New York Times reports. “The sea is also absorbing most of the heat trapped by human emissions. Those factors are causing the ocean to rise at what appears to be an accelerating pace, and coastal communities in the United States are spending billions of dollars to fight increased tidal flooding. Their pleas for help from Congress have largely been ignored.”
Flagler County is among those communities, though Congress last month passed a bill that includes several million dollars to help repair local beaches,. The money has yet to be appropriated, however, and the beach-renourishment project it is intended to finance is based on a replenishment of beach sand every 11 years. Current temperature trends and sea level rises may make those calculations obsolete.