Global Heat Threepeat

January 19, 2017



Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016, trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.

The findings come two days before the inauguration of an American president who has called global warming a Chinese plot and vowed to roll back his predecessor’s efforts to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases.

In reality, the Earth is heating up, a point long beyond serious scientific dispute, but one becoming more evident as the records keep falling. Temperatures are heading toward levels that many experts believe will pose a profound threat to both the natural world and to human civilization.

In 2015 and 2016, the planetary warming was intensified by the weather pattern known as El Niño, in which the Pacific Ocean released a huge burst of energy and water vapor into the atmosphere. But the bigger factor in setting the records was the long-term trend of rising temperatures, which scientists say is being driven by increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The Chinese exercise more power over the climate than we thought.


More from new EPA designate. Scott Pruitt, who, to his credit, admits his boss is full of shit.

NYTimes again:

The heat extremes were especially pervasive in the Arctic, with temperatures in the fall running 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal across large stretches of the Arctic Ocean. Sea ice in that region has been in precipitous decline for years, and Arctic communities are already wrestling with enormous problems, such as rapid coastal erosion, caused by the changing climate.

“What’s going on in the Arctic is really very impressive; this year was ridiculously off the chart,” said Gavin A. Schmidt, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, a unit of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that tracks global temperatures.

But Arctic people were hardly alone in feeling the heat. Drought and starvation afflicted Africa. On May 19, the people in the town of Phalodi lived through the hottest day in the recorded history of India, 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

El Niño has now ended, and climate scientists almost universally expect 2017 to be cooler than the year before. But the scale of the heat burst has been startling to many of the experts, and some of them fear an accelerated era of global warming could be at hand over the next few years.

Part of the amazing heat this year came from a large el Nino event that spread over 2015-16.



The 1998 El Niño, for example, pushed global temperatures to record levels as well, but that’s nothing compared to what was experienced in 2016. There’s something else at work—namely, human-caused global warming. “This [latest] El Niño might have contributed about a quarter or a third” of the record in 2016, said Arndt, adding that “it’s not a factor in the overall long term trend.”

Looking ahead to 2017, the cooling trend known as La Niña could mean that a fourth consecutive year of temperature records won’t happen. Climate skeptics may use this as an opportunity to say that global warming isn’t real, but “people are savvy enough to see how transparent that is,” said Arndt. The researchers predict that 2017 won’t be a record-breaker, but they’re confident it’ll be a “top five year.

During the press conference, the NASA and NOAA researchers underscored the importance of focusing on the big picture, and not just the recent three-year trend. “We tend to focus on the previous year, but as far as what’s important moving forward, it’s the long term trend that’s the most relevant,” said Arndt.

The incoming Trump administration would be wise to acknowledge this report. Troublingly, the President-elect, through cabinet picks like Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson—both climate skeptics—hints at a very environment-unfriendly White House.


9 Responses to “Global Heat Threepeat”

  1. It is no victory at all for Republicans to admit the earth’s temperature is rising. A common thread I see in all these hearings where climate change comes up is that the nominee agrees the earth is warming, but disagrees as to whether or not mankind is the culprit, or to what degree mankind is the culprit. That stance is all they need to justify no action, and to dismantle the measures Obama has put into place. I predict with confidence that this incoming administration will do all it can to keep the fossil fuel industry alive and well, even make it richer. I also predict this administration will not just leave renewables to themselves, but will make it tougher on them. We will hear over and over again that the science is isn’t definite, and that even if it is, a warmer earth is a good thing.

    • otter17 Says:

      Yes, they have several layers of illogical fallback positions to circulate between. Still, if there are clever types that can oppose these measures by hitting denial with the previous arguments, that might be one way to get the public to realize the insanity of it. “Mr. Denial Politician, didn’t you just say the other year that it wasn’t warming at all? Why should we trust your perspective or decision making on the issue now?”

      Some tough times, though, and some probable predictions.

  2. redskylite Says:

    Thanks Peter again for keeping us (readers) up to speed on events in the climate science and the political arena and nuances, must take up most of your time (and I truly appreciate your sacrifice). Some (read it in the Alabama Satellite reading Uni report on 2016) regard the recent strong El Niño as an outlier, but don’t ignore/discount the readings, just wonder what we’ll be saying during the next mother of all El Niños, in possibly less than a decade’s time (1998….2015 ….????).

    If I was a rich man. . .

    Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
    All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.

    The project’s website notes that the Vivos Group calls this place “the place you want to be when SHTF, or “sh** hits the fan.”

    • redskylite Says:

      I attach the lukewarm media release from the University of Alabama Huntsville, including the outlier bit. Also noted that the BBC World News headlined the “Warmest Year on Record” item under the World News (not just the Science section) , and our own national TV station featured it in the main news report.

      Seems a paradigm shift is spreading at long last.

      meanwhile Mr John Christy spoke while yawning . . .

      “The question is, does 2016’s record warmth mean anything scientifically?” Christy said. “I suppose the answer is, not really. Both 1998 and 2016 are anomalies, outliers”

      Lets sweep them under the table and move on – good god is that snow see, Judy ?

  3. andrewfez Says:

    My hiking partner ended up having to work today so I played around on the computer today; see if this works – a variation on Throwback Thursday on Facebook:

    • otter17 Says:

      Neat idea, showing a denial myth at a glance, visually. It is kind of like a Skep Sci, Crock of the Week, This is Not Cool, explanation boiled down to a internets meme format.

      And, like some memes, probably just thrown together in Paint, eh? Hah, probably a strength, really since anybody with a little imagination can make them. I see one very minor flaw in a white spot in the arrowhead fill, possibly my imagination.

      The content and format rocks, though. Showing the entire temperature record really puts a perspective on the “no warming since XX year” or “we are going to start cooling any day now” myths.

  4. MorinMoss Says:

    From a NOAA El Niño FAQ,, we learn that

    “the accumulation of excess heat in the eastern Pacific during a strong El Niño like that which occurred in 1997-98 is approximately equivalent to the output of one million medium-sized 1000 megawatt power plants operating continuously for a year”

    My arithmetic turns that into 8.76 quintillion watts-hrs or 8760 Petawatts-hours about as much as the annual electricity consumption of China & America combined

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