Blistering temperatures and extreme weather scorched every part of the earth and repeatedly shattered temperature records in 2016, the World Meteorological Organization reported this week in its annual State of Global Climate report.
“The influence of human activities on the climate system has become more and more evident,” wrote WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in the foreword to the report. “This influence is increasingly being demonstrated by attribution studies for some of the most critical weather and climate extremes, in particular extremes related to heat.”
Global average temperatures increased 0.06°C over the previous record set in 2015. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm), en route to a second record jump in a row this year.
“Much of that increased warmth was centered in the Arctic in 2016, where mean temperatures hit at least 3°C above the average from 1961-90 in some areas,” InsideClimate News reports. “Beyond the extremes of the Arctic, the year’s warming was exceptional because of its consistency, the report said, rather than being the result of spikes in a few locations.”
“Even without a strong El Niño in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system,” said David Carlson, director of the WMO’s World Climate Research Program. “We are now in truly uncharted territory.”
“Earth is a planet in upheaval due to human-caused changes in the atmosphere,” University of Arizona glaciologist Jeffrey Kargel told The Guardian. “In general, drastically changing conditions do not help civilization, which thrives on stability.” ThinkProgress cites climatologist Sir Robert Watson’s critique of the “Trump administration and senior Republicans in Congress [who] continue to bury their heads in the sand.”