A report compiled by a United States government agency has confirmed that 2016 was the warmest year on record and the third year in a row of record global warmth. Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, all drivers of atmospheric warming, recorded new highs a year ago, with carbon dioxide surpassing a milestone 400 parts per million for the first time in recent history.
Scientists who collected data for the report attribute the record heat to long-term global warming and El Niño.
The State of the Climate report said 2016 was the third consecutive year of record global warmth.
Before that, it was 2014.
"The report found that the major indicators of climate change continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet", NOAA said.
The authors of the leaked study disagree with that stance, writing in the report: "Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change".
Atmospheric CO2 concentration reached 402.9 parts per million (ppm), surpassing 400 ppm for the first time in the modern record and in ice core records dating back as far as 800,000 years. In 2016, the average global temperature across land and ocean surface areas was 0.94 degrees Celsius (1.69 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average of 13.9 degrees Celsius (57.0 degrees Fahrenheit), according to NOAA. Both land and sea surface temperatures set new highs.
Scientists found that the increase in Carbon dioxide concentration rose to new record highs in 2016 and they recorded the largest annual increase observed in the last 58 years. Over the past two decades, sea level has increased at an average rate of about 0.13 inch (3.4 mm) per year, with the highest rates of increase in the western Pacific and Indian Oceans. This also marks the sixth consecutive year global sea level has increased compared to the previous year.
Scientists also observed an increase in extreme water cycles around the world with many parts of the globe experiencing major floods while other are facing severe droughts.
The spike was greatest in the Arctic, where temperatures were 2.6 degrees above the 1981-2010 average and 3.6 degrees higher than they were in 1900. Globally, temperatures were up nearly a full degree over the average measured from 1981 to 2010.
Record high annual temperatures swept Mexico and India. The numbers are the differences from the pre-industrial era, calculated as the average mean surface temperature of 1880-1899.
There were 93 named tropical cyclones across all ocean basins in 2016, well above the 1981-2010 average of 82 storms.
"Drought in 2016 was among the most extensive in the post-1950 record", said the report.