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2016 recorded as hottest year in history

ENVIRONMENT
By Protus Onyango | August 4th 2016

The first six months of this year have been the hottest ever in the world.

Arctic sea ice melted early and fast, with carbon dioxide levels that are driving global warming to new highs.

Two separate reports from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Nasa Giss) released Wednesday highlighted the dramatic and sweeping changes in the state of the climate.

According to the reports, June 2016 marked the 14th consecutive month of record heat for land and oceans. It marked the 378th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average.

The last month with temperatures below the 20th century average was December 1984.

"Another month, another record. And another. And another. Decades-long trends of climate change are reaching new climaxes, fuelled by the strong 2015-2016 El Nino," said World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Secretary General Petteri Taalas.

"The El Nino event, which turned up the earth's thermostat, has now disappeared. Climate change, caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases, will not. This means that we face more heatwaves, more extreme rainfall and potential for higher impact tropical cyclones," he added.

Carbon dioxide concentrations have passed the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere so far this year.

Gas levels

The gas levels vary according to the season, but the underlying trend is upwards. They showed a surprising increase for the first half of 2016, rising in June 2016 to nearly 407ppm, 4ppm greater than June 2015.

"This underlines more starkly than ever the need to approve and implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, and to speed up the shift to low carbon economies and renewable energy," said Mr Taalas.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has invited leaders to an event on September 21 to deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

It will also provide an opportunity for other countries to publicly commit to the agreement before the end of 2016.

According to Nasa, the average temperature in the first six months of 2016 was 1.3°C (2.4°F) warmer than the pre-industrial era in the late 19th century.

And NOAA said the global land and ocean average temperature for January–June was 1.05°C (1.89°F) above the 20th century average, beating the previous record set in 2015 by 0.20°C (0.36°F).

Each month was record warm. Most of the world's land and ocean surfaces had warmer to much-warmer-than-average conditions.

The El Nino event which developed in 2015 and was one of the most powerful on record contributed to the record temperatures in the first half of 2016. It dissipated in May.

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