The first of several climate verdicts is in: 2016 was the warmest year on record — as widely expected

By Tom Yulsman | January 5, 2017 9:47 pm

Air temperatures at a height of two meters for 2016, shown relative to their 1981-2010 averages. (Source: ECMWF, Copernicus Climate Change Service)

On the heels of a study confirming that there had been no slowdown in global warming, there is now this news: 2016 was indeed the warmest year on record. The analysis was announced Thursday by the the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Scientists have been predicting for quite some time that 2016 would achieve this dubious distinction.

SEE ALSO: “Might not feel like it today, but 2016 will be the warmest year in the surface temperature records”

The announcement follows preliminary findings in December from the Japan Meteorological Agency also showing that 2016 would be the warmest year.

Two U.S. government agencies, NASA and NOAA, will follow soon with their own analyses. While they may differ somewhat in the details, there is no doubt that they will concur about 2016’s record-setting status.

In its analysis, the Copernicus Climate Change Service found that this past year was warmer than 2015 by close to 0.2°C. “Global temperatures reached a peak in February 2016 around 1.5°C higher than at the start of the Industrial Revolution,” according to a press release from Copernicus.

As the graphic above shows, the Arctic was especially warm. And no part of the Arctic was warmer in 2016 than the island archipelago of Svalbard, which sits more than 500 miles north of Norway in the high Arctic.

In addition to being warmer than any year since record-keeping began on Svalbard in 1911, 2016 brought conditions that can only be described as bizarre. In October, for example, temperatures skyrocketed to 50 degrees F in Longyearbyen, the main settlement.  In November and December, temperatures spiked to above 40 degrees F. It is normally uniformly freezing during these months, with temperatures in December that can easily plunge to minus 20.

Even more concerning for the people who live there — and who are having to deal with deadly avalanches and buildings sinking in thawing permafrost — is the fact that Longyearbyen had fewer than 200 days with freezing temperatures in 2016. (Also a record.)

“We’re not just talking about heat records, but numbers that crush everything else measured previously,” says Stein Kristiansen of Norway’s Meteorological Institute, quoted in a story in Aftenposten.

Lest you think that this is only an issue for people living in the high north, take a close look at that map. Very few regions of the globe experienced temperatures in 2016 that were cooler than average.

  • OWilson

    Local conditions vary over the planet, some warmer, some cooler, and combine to give us average global temperature. Warming in Svalbard is offset by the polar vortex in Asia, and so it goes.

    According to the “Copernicus” source quoted in the article above:

    “”the latest figures from C3S, part of the EU’s Copernicus earth observation programme, show that 2016’s global temperature exceeded 14.8°C, and was around 1.3°C higher than typical for the middle years of the 18th century””

    Now, I’m not sure what methodology was used to collect and record temperatures from all over the world back in the18th century, the heydays of Daniel Boone, Blackbeard the Pirate, and the New York Slave Revolt, but I’ll wager the margin of error is greater than the current satellite record, which extends from 1979.

    So taking NOAA’s satellite record, we have a temperature anomaly (December 2017) of 0.24 degrees over 38 years. At this rate, the anomaly would be a mere o.21 degrees by 2050, and a mere 0.52 degrees by 2100.

    Which is, they tell us, less than the present U.N. goal of 2.00 degrees.

    Then you have to consider it is not rising consistently, and of course there is always that margin of error again.

    I would suggest that plans to build the ark to rescue Miami and New York be put on hold, and recommend asking genocidal tin pot third world dictator Robert Mugabe exactly how he intends to spend the $1,500,000,000.00 the U.N. says he needs every year, to combat “climate change”.

    After all, we are some $20,000,000,000,000.00 in debt already, and, that threatens to really “swamp” the country :)

    • Tom Yulsman

      Miami and other cities are already adapting to rising sea level, whatever you may think the cause might be. And the efforts will inevitably ramp up in coming years by necessity, no matter what your political ideology causes you to believe.

      • OWilson

        Agreed. Not only adapting, but growing.

        Despite the 3mm or so annual sea level increase.

        Rising sea levels are a natural state of the present epoch.

        They have been rising for thousands of years since the end of the last ice age.

        And will continue to do so until the next Ice Age starts up again, regardless of political ideology.

        • cgs

          Actually King Canute knew he could not stop the tide from rising on command, and he used that fact to deliver a lesson to those that would flatter the power of a king:

          And as far as rising sea levels being a natural state of the present epoch, current science tells us that, just as with temperature, there has been a marked increase during the 20th century that is scientifically interesting:


          “If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you.” – Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World


          • OWilson

            If you are not skeptical of politicians or the Mainstream Media, you have no brain! – O.Wilson, Imageo Blog contributor :)

          • No Such Agency Knows

            Being skeptical of Climate Deceivers will get Donald Trump nullified?

          • OWilson

            Go for it, democratically of course!

            Just watch out for the possible “deplorable” backlash in 2018 and 2020. :)

          • No Such Agency Knows

            For extra profit to those we are not allowed to criticize, looks like the Economist has switched sides
            and Donald Trump will not be nullified?

          • OWilson

            That’s the MSM for you!

            It pays to be skeptical :)

          • No Such Agency Knows

            Donald Trump, recently said that humans do make a difference to temperatures. Previously, he was a denier. Why the cold? — “Global Cooling: Londonistan Hit With Arctic Snow”

          • OWilson

            Hey Watt’s Charlie doing on that drum?

          • No Such Agency Knows

            I think that the Rothschild connected Economist is pointing out that, the US revolution was subverted by assassinations (“Two President Who Died Defying the Rothschilds”) and the Federal Reserve Act (December 23, 1913)

          • Dano2

            zlop derpage bot still needs a programmer with an IQ over 90!




          • No Such Agency Knows

            My time is precious — For wasting my time,
            I will try and block you.

          • OWilson

            It’s old, but true as ever. Don’t feed the trolls!

            Unless you have lots of time on your hands then you can have some fun with them.

            (They hate to be laughed at!)

          • Mike Richardson

            Ha-ha-ha-ha! 😆

  • Mike Richardson

    Well, we’re experiencing below freezing temperatures in Louisiana now, but it is January, and local anecdotal reporting hardly offsets methodical sampling and averages of global temperature. As this study demonstrates, our climate is indeed changing at an unnatural rate, with consequences which will be felt by all of us. One can invoke the name of Robert Mugabe, Al Gore, or any other political non-sequiturs, but it doesn’t change the facts.

    • megan-james

      This is how you can make am impressively wonderful money every 4 weeks… You can do it personally! After been without work for half a year, I began freelancing over this web-site and nowadays i couldn’t be pleased. After six months on my new job my per month pay is around 12k per 30 days…>> FACEBOOK.COM/For-US-UK-Canada-Australia-and-New-Zealand-1081278581977571/app/208195102528120/

  • No Such Agency Knows

    Climate Scares are to motivate increased control and Carbon Taxation.
    Latest global peak, compared to the 1998 peak, is less than 0.1°C.
    As predicted — expect Ice Age Doom, in the 2030 decade.
    (Arctic winds could change in a single year)

    • Dano2

      zlop derpage bot still needs a programmer with an IQ over 90.






ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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