2016 was on Wednesday declared the hottest year on record by the United Nations (UN), making last year the warmest twelve months since 1880.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), reported that the global average temperature in 2016 was nearly 1.1 degree Celsius higher than the “pre-industrial” period. The weather agency noted that 16 out of 17 hottest years on record have fallen in the twenty-first century, with the exception of 1998.
“2016 was an extreme year for the global climate and stands out as the hottest year on record,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a press release. He said that rising temperatures only told “part of the story”.
Taalas primarily blamed rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and methane as being responsible a global spike in temperature, dubbing the trend as “human caused climate change”.
Here are five trends that reflect how bad the heat was in 2016.
1. The melting of Arctic glaciers
The rapid melting of Arctic ice is one the main reasons for rising sea levels, which is an indicator of how fast the earth is heating up. The UN has reported that temperatures in certain parts of Arctic Russia in 2016 were six to seven degree Celsius above long-term average, while Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Canada and Alaska saw a temperature rise of at least three degree Celsius.
“Greenland glacier melt, one of the contributors to sea level rise, started early and fast. Arctic sea ice was the lowest on record both at the start of the melt season in March and at the height of the normal refreezing period in October and November,” Taalas from the WMO reportedly said.
“The Arctic is warming twice as fast the global average.”
According to an estimate, global sea levels could possibly rise by as much as 69 cm over the coming hundred years, mainly due to melting of polar ice and glaciers.
America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said that one of the visible effects of global warming was the “greening up” of the polar regions of the world.
A California-based NASA scientist was quoted as saying, “What was once a frozen tundra landscape has practically become a new ecosystem.”
2. Rising ocean temperature
According to climate scientists, carbon dioxide can remain in water for longer periods of time than it can stay in the air, which in itself measures in thousands of years. The WMO said that 85 percent of the global warming over the past decade was caused by carbon dioxide, making the greenhouse gas the chief factor behind rising temperatures.
One of the symptoms of rising ocean temperature is destruction of marine ecology. It is estimated that nearly half of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has died in certain areas due to rising temperature, with coral bleaching also a widespread phenomenon.
(Source: Youtube/NASA Goddard)
According to scientists, oceans will get more acidic due to their tendency of dissolving greenhouse gases which will make it ever harder for sea-borne creatures to breathe. The rising water temperature is also feared to affect marine creatures’ life processed including reproduction.
3. Extreme weather and massive socio-economic disruption
Climate-related events displaced nearly twice the number of people displaced by war and human-related violence in 2015. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), nearly 19.2 million people in 113 countries were displaced by weather related events during the same period, a trend which likely continued into 2016.
It is believed that global warming will signal a new era of extreme weather events, with tropical storms and heavier rainfall likely to get more frequent as the world continues heating up.
(Source: Youtube/The God Particle)
A research last year estimated that at least 50 percent of climate events between 2011 through 2015 were caused due to “human-induced” global warming.
Drought, another climate related phenomenon, caused widespread economic and human misery in India, Australia and parts of Africa in 2016.