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2016 officially declared the hottest year on record

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2016 was the hottest year in 137 years of record keeping and the third year in a row to take the number one slot, a mark of how much the world has warmed over the last century because of human activities, U.S. government scientists announced Wednesday.

2016 is a “data point at the end of many data points that indicates” long-term warming, Deke Arndt, chief of the monitoring branch of the National Centers for Environmental Information, said.

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Weather stations in the U.S. that are having a warmer than normal, colder than normal and record hot year.

 

While the record was expected, the joint announcement by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration came in the midst of Senate confirmation hearings for President-elect Trump’s cabinet nominees, several of whom have expressed doubts about established climate science, as has Trump himself.

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This article was originally published at Climate Central

Many climate scientists, policy experts and environmentalists are concerned about the potential for the incoming administration to limit funding for climate science and roll back both national and international progress toward limiting the greenhouse gases that are warming the planet.

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According to NOAA data, the global average temperature for 2016 was 1.69°F (0.94°C) above the 20th century average and 0.07°F (0.04°C) above the previous record set last year.

In NASA’s records, 2016 was 1.8°F (0.99°C) above the 1951-1980 average.

Each agency has slightly different methods of processing the data and different baseline periods they use for comparison, as do other groups around the world that monitor global temperatures, leading to slightly different year-to-year numbers.

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But despite these differences, all of these records “are capturing the same long-term signal. It’s a pretty unmistakable signal,” Arndt said. Or as he likes to put it: “They’re singing the same song, even if they’re hitting different notes along the way.”

Several spots around the globe had record heat for 2016, including Alaska and a swath of the eastern U.S. The contiguous U.S. had its second hottest year on record, according to NOAA, but with the remarkable warmth experienced by Alaska factored in, 2016 would be the hottest for the country as a whole.

The first eight months of the year were all record hot globally; in NOAA’s data, they were part of an unprecedented streak of 16 record hot months in a row.

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Of the 17 hottest years on record, 16 have occurred in the 21st century (the exception being the strong El Niño year of 1998).

While El Niño played a role in bumping up global temperatures during 2015 and 2016, the bulk of the warmth was due to the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases emitted by humans over the past century, particularly carbon dioxide.

In 2016, CO2 concentrations also permanently passed the 400 parts per million mark for the first time in human history; during preindustrial times, that concentration was 280 ppm.

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As example of how greenhouse gases have affected global temperatures, 2016 was almost 0.5°F (0.9°C) warmer than 1998, both years that experienced comparably strong El Niños. Even 2014, before the most recent El Niño emerged, was warmer than 1998.

Nearly 120 nations, including the U.S., have ratified the 2015 Paris climate agreement and committed to keeping the worst impacts of warming from materializing by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement cites a goal of keeping global temperature rise “well below” 2°C (3.6°F) above preindustrial levels by the end of this century, with a limit of 1.5°C as a more aggressive goal.

To show how close the world already is to surpassing those limits, Climate Central has been reanalyzing the global temperature data by averaging the NASA and NOAA numbers and comparing them to a baseline closer to preindustrial times. That analysis shows that 2016 was 1.2°C (2.16°F) above the average from 1881-1910.

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“We have clearly passed 1 degree above preindustrial temperatures,” and likely won’t go below it without a major volcanic eruption (which tends to cool global temperatures), Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said.

When we might actually reach 1.5°C isn’t clear, Schmidt said, and depends both on how quickly greenhouse gases are emitted — which depends on how quickly countries act to limit their emissions — and just how much additional carbon dioxide can be emitted before the 1.5°C goal is breached, which is still somewhat uncertain.

“We’re closer than we would like to be,” he said.

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With El Niño gone, and a weak La Niña to start off 2017, this year isn’t likely to continue the streak and best 2016, climate scientists say. But even if 2017 is cooler than 2016, it will only be a very slight dip compared to the long-term warming trend — in fact, the U.K. Met Office expects that 2017 will still rank among the hottest years on record.

“It’s still going to be a top 5 year in our analysis. I’m pretty confident about that,” Schmidt said.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Trump explains why he wants to buy Greenland to reporters: ‘It’s a large real estate deal — a lot can be done’

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President Donald Trump reaffirmed his desire to buy Greenland in discussion with reporters Sunday.

The president was returning to Washington, D.C. when he stopped at the airport in Morristown, New Jersey. New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman asked the president about his desire to buy the country from Denmark.

"Greenland, I don't know. It got released somehow," Trump said of the news about his desire to buy the country. "It's something we talked about. Denmark essentially owns it. We're very good allies with Denmark. We protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world. So the concept came up, and I said, strategically, it's interesting. And we'd be interested. We'll talk to them a little bit. It's not number one on the burner; I can tell you that."

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‘They love the meanest parts of him’: Conservative writer explains why evangelical Christians stick with Trump

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Ben Howe, a conservative writer and evangelical Christian who refuses to support Donald Trump, explained why fellow evangelicals continue to back the president despite his decidedly ungodly behavior.

Speaking with the Atlantic’s Emma Green about his new book The Immoral Majority, Howe — whose evangelical bona fides include attending pastor Jerry Falwell’s church as a kid — described evangelicals’ support for Trump, insisting “they love the meanest parts of him.”

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‘Mental midget’ Stephen Miller absolutely demolished in MSNBC blast at Trump’s ‘misfit’ advisers

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Given the opportunity to discuss two profiles on White House adviser Stephen Miller -- published by the Washington Post and the New York Times late Saturday -- Democratic consultant Don Calloway jumped in with both feet to trash the man he called a "mental midget"."

Asked p on MSNBC about the controversial Miller's outsized influence on Donald Trump, Calloway didn't hold back.

"What goes through your head when you hear how much influence Stephen Miller has on immigration policy?" host Alex Witt asked.

"Stephen Miller is a mental midget, that's the best thing I can say," Calloway began to the sounds of laughter offscreen.

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