The results are in: 2016 was the hottest year on record, marking the third year in a row that climate records have been broken. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA jointly declared the finding on Wednesday, using two different data sets and methodologies to reach the same conclusion: we’re kinda screwed.
According to the NOAA, average surface temperatures for the year were 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than 2015, and eight months were individually the hottest since records began in 1880. NASA’s data actually suggests things are worse: according to the space agency, average surface temperatures rose 0.22 degrees last year.
Yes, El Niño contributed to warm temperatures last year, particularly the run of warm months earlier in 2016. As that’s an event that only occurs once every few years (and has now concluded), it is unlikely that we’re on track for another record-breaking year in 2017. But that’s not even remotely a sign that global warming is slowing down.
Instead, as one NASA administrator told the Washington Post, “We don’t expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear.” 2016 is the fifth year since 2000 that has been the hottest on record.
Statistics aside, 2016 was also a bad year for events that can be linked to climate change. Sea ice levels were at record lows for much of the year, a catastrophic wildfire early in the fire season engulfed an entire Canadian city, and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was badly impacted by rising sea temperatures.