NOAA: 2016's Weather Was Far From Normal

'Very extreme' year is concerning, scientists say
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 11, 2017 12:30 AM CDT
The remains of a destroyed home lay in southwestern Haiti after Hurricane Matthew devastated the region.   (Rebecca Blackwell)
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(Newser) – Last year's global weather was far more extreme or record-breaking than anything approaching normal, according to a new report. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual checkup of the Earth on Thursday, highlighting numerous records including hottest year, highest sea level, and lowest sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctica. The 299-page report, written by scientists around the world and published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, shows that 2016 was "very extreme and it is a cause for concern," says co-editor Jessica Blunden, a NOAA climate scientist. Researchers called it a clear signal of human-caused climate change, the AP reports. A record large El Nino, the warming of the central Pacific that changes weather worldwide, was also a big factor. Scientists found:

  • At any given time, nearly one-eighth of the world's land mass was in severe drought. That's far higher than normal and "one of the worst years for drought," says report co-author Robert Dunn of the United Kingdom Met Office.
  • Extreme weather was everywhere. Giant downpours were up. Heat waves struck all over the globe, including a nasty one in India. Extreme weather contributed to a gigantic wildfire in Canada.
  • Global sea level rose another quarter of an inch for the sixth straight year of record high sea levels.
  • There were 93 tropical cyclones across the globe, 13% more than normal. That included Hurricane Matthew, which killed about 1,000 people in Haiti.
  • The world's glaciers shrank—for the 37th year in a row—by an average of about 3 feet.
  • Greenland's ice sheet in 2016 lost 341 billion tons of ice. It has lost 4,400 billion tons of ice since 2002. "2016 was a year in the Arctic like we've never seen before," says NOAA Arctic research chief Jeremy Mathis, who calls it "a clear and more pronounced signal of warming than in any other year on record."
(A leaked federal climate change report warns of drastic temperature rises.)

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