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Earth keeps breaking its own temperature record

Earth keeps breaking its own temperature record


This is the third year in a row

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German Astronaut Alexander Gerst Aboard The International Space Station
Photo by Alexander Gerst / ESA via Getty Images

Earth set a new heat record in 2016, marking the third year of record-setting temperatures, according to reports from multiple organizations. The unsettling news reaffirms what we’ve witnessed for months.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration wrote today that the average global temperature in 2016 was 58.69 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.69 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. This beats last year’s record-setting temperature by 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit. NOAA notes that the annual global temperature record has broken five times in the 21st century. NASA and the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project separately confirmed the news.

The effects of climate change are apparent. Sea ice levels are at record lows, including Arctic and Antarctica ice. Pervasive drought affected Africa; India lived through its hottest temperature ever recorded; and Sydney, Australia residents dealt with a record-breaking hot night, with the temperature remaining at 83 degrees, even at 2AM.

This year’s record confirmation, as first reported by The New York Times, follows months of warm weather. Temperatures in the Arctic were particularly excessive this year and sometimes reached 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. In November, the World Meteorological Organization reported that temperatures from January until September of 2016 were 1.58 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the average from 1961 to 1990 around the world.

El Niño, which has now ended, likely contributed to this year’s heat, possibly by up to 0.20 degrees Fahrenheit. But even with that in mind, NOAA and NASA scientists only expect temperatures to continue rising.