Climate records are being smashed, not just broken by a little.
Seven climate records set so far in 2016
1. Arctic heat and ice cover
- The Arctic had its warmest winter on record in 2015-16
- Arctic ice cover in May was the lowest ever for the month of May, by more than 500,000 sq km.
2. Record global average temperatures each month
Every month so far in 2016: January, February, March, April and May, has been the hottest on record globally for that month.
3. India heat and drought
- India recorded its hottest day ever on 19 May. The mercury in Phalodi, in the desert state of Rajasthan, rose to 51 C.
- A nationwide drought in India has affected more than 300 million people leaving armed guards at dams, and reservoirs well below their usual levels
4. Alaska heat
- Alaska, along with the rest of the Arctic, has experienced record-breaking heat.
- Spring was the warmest on record, with an average temperature of 0 C.
- The average year-to-date temperature has been 5.5C above the long-term average.
5. Record growth of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
- Carbon dioxide levels have been breaking records every year for decades
- However, the margin by which the record is forecast to break the annual record in 2016 is striking – and would be a worrying record.
- The increase for 2016 is expected to be 3.1 parts per million, compared to the annual average of 2.1.
- At a time when we need to be decreasing CO2 levels, they are increasing faster
6. Australia record hot autumn
Australia, no stranger to record-breaking heat, just clocked up its hottest autumn yet. Average temperatures were 1.86 C above the average, beating the previous record of 1.64 C above average, set in 2005.
7. Mass bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef
- The Great Barrier Reef, a natural wonder and world heritage site, experienced its worst ever coral bleaching event, as a blob of warm water made its way around the world.
- An aerial study found that just 7% of the reef escaped bleaching, which can lead to the coral permanently dying
- The northern third of the reef: 81% severely bleached
- The middle third of the reef: 33% severely bleached
- The southern third of the reef: 1% severely bleached
This is the third global coral bleaching since 1998, and scientists have found no earlier evidence of these disasters.
(ABC News: 28 March 2016)
(The Guardian: 18 June 2016)
Global warming is an emergency today
May 2016 was the 13th month in a row to break temperature records
They are the latest in 2016’s string of incredible climate records which scientists have described as a bombshell and an emergency.
The series of smashed global records, particularly the extraordinary heat in February and March, has provoked a stunned reaction from climate scientists, who are warning that climate change has reached unprecedented levels and is no longer only a threat for the future.
The impacts we’re beginning to see are just the start and we know it will get worse for at least the next couple of decades – even if we do cut emissions.
What’s worrying about the record-breaking 2016 is that we are in unprecedented territory and we don’t really know what the consequences will be. There are likely to be plenty of surprises, some of which will be nasty.