It’s confirmed. In 2016, Earth experienced its warmest in recorded history, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Wednesday. The planet also reached record high temperatures for the third consecutive year.
NOAA’s annual climate report found last year’s temperatures averaged 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.43 C) above those in the 20th century. Scientists attributed the increase to both the temporary weather pattern known as El Niño and more permanent global warming caused by greenhouse gases.
“Trends that we’ve seen here since the 1970s are continuing and have not paused in anyway,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said at a press briefing.
El Niño was a factor this year, but both 2015 & 2016 would have been records even without it.
Estimate of effect 0.05°C & 0.12°C. pic.twitter.com/tRRhVbQKRw
— Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin) January 18, 2017
The report indicated Arctic ice shrunk in 2016 to its smallest average area on record, approximately 3.92 million square miles.
Deke Arndt, chief of the monitoring group at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, said it is too early to tell whether 2017 will be even hotter than last year, but it is likely to “be a continuation of long term trends.”
The joint findings from NOAA and NASA come eight months after the historic Paris Agreement, which aims to significantly reduce greenhouse gases to slow the effects of climate change. President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to remove the U.S. from the deal.
Scientists widely agree that an increase of 1.5 C in global average temperatures would result in irreversible damage to environment due to climate change.