Home > climate change, NOAA Global Analysis > United Nations says 2016 on track to be hottest year on record

United Nations says 2016 on track to be hottest year on record

A United Nations agency has predicted that the planet’s recent streak of record-setting hot years will reach a new threshold this year.

The World Meteorological Organization also noted in the July 21 statement that the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide has reached “new highs.”

The current level of CO2 in the atmosphere exceeds 400 parts per million, a concentration not known on Earth since the Pliocene epoch, which ended about 1.8 million years ago.

In June the average concentration reached 407 parts per million, which was 4 ppm greater than in June 2015.

A WMO official pointed to the trend as a reason to emphasize public policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“This underlines more starkly than ever the need to approve and implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, and to speed up the shift to low carbon economies and renewable energy,” Petteri Taalas, the agency’s secretary-general, said.

The WMO statement highlighted a streak of record-setting hot months in its prediction.

Two U.S. agencies, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, have said that June 2016 was the hottest June on record.

NOAA also said that June was the 14th consecutive month to set a heat record.

“Another month, another record,” Taalas said. “And another. And another. Decades-long trends of climate change are reaching new climaxes, fueled by the strong 2015/2016 El Niño.”

Global Mean Surface Temperature, Jan. - Jun. 2016 - courtesy NASA

This color-coded Robinson projection map shows global surface temperature anomalies for the period that includes the first six months of 2016. Higher than normal temperatures are shown in red and lower then normal termperatures are shown in blue. Graphic courtesy NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Year-to-Date Global Average Temperature - courtesy NOAA

This graphic shows the deviation of year-to-date average global temperature through the end of June from the 20th century mean for the past several years, as well as for several other years since the late 1990s. Graphic courtesy National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

WMO also pointed to reduced Arctic sea ice during summer months, increased precipitation in some regions, and widespread bleaching of coral reefs as indicators of the climate trend that is likely to put 2016 in the record books.

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