The evidence behind global climate change continues to mount, and scientists keep speaking out. Now they hope the world will listen.
The latest international climate report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirms that 2016 was the third consecutive year of record global heat.
On Thursday afternoon the American Meteorological Society published the 27th annual “State of the Climate” report, which verifies last year surpassed 2015 as the hottest since record keeping began in 1880.
Based on preliminary data, NASA and NOOA had made the same assessment back in January, but this week’s report is considered definitive.
“We’re scientists, and we’re providing objective information,” Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., told Yahoo News. “We don’t go into policy, but we provide the information for people who want to go further with that.”
According to the report, the effect of long-term global warming and a powerful El Niño early on pushed 2016 into record-setting warmth. The global average sea level reached a new record high last year as well, to 3.25 inches above the average level in 1993, which marks the beginning of the satellite altimeter record.
Scientists also said that the average Arctic land surface temperature continued to warm and global ice and snow cover continued to decline. Sea ice extents in the Antarctic hit record daily and monthly lows in August and November.
The “State of the Climate” report is based on contributions from nearly 500 scientists from more than 60 countries, using tens of thousands of measurements from several independent data sets. This summary of the global climate confirms data released on Jan. 18 based on analyses from scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.
Blunden said the use of additional independent data sets distinguishes this report from what came before.
“The big difference in this report is we don’t just look at NOAA data. There are about four different independent data sets we looked at to come to this conclusion,” Blunden told Yahoo News. “It’s not just NOAA who is agreeing with it. NASA, the U.K. Met Office and the Japan Meteorological Agency are agreeing.”
Since the previous data was released mere days before President Trump’s inauguration, this peer-reviewed report is the most thorough assessment of climate change officially released during the Trump era.
Deke Arndt, chief of the climate-monitoring branch at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, described the report as diagnostic when asked if anyone from the White House had weighed in on it or questioned its findings.
“This report is a diagnostic report. It basically diagnoses what is happening in the climate system,” Arndt said on a conference call. “It’s intended to provide intelligence to those sort of decision makers that you’re talking about.”
Concentrations of major greenhouse gases in the atmosphere also reached to new highs in 2016. For instance, the global average concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary driver of anthropogenic climate change, in the atmosphere reached 402.9 parts per million (ppm). This was the first time on record that CO2 concentration exceeded 400 ppm. The consensus of climate scientists is that the maximum safe level is 350.
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