2016-The hottest Year on record
11-Feb-2017


The year 2016 was the hottest year on record. This statement is based on 137 years of diligently kept scientific records that show how humans are transforming Earth’s climate. 

It is indeed alarming that separate analyses carried out by UK Met Office,  NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) mention that 2016 is the third consecutive year that the planet earth has experienced record-high temperatures and the 40th consecutive year that global temperatures were above average in more than a century of record-keeping and 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been in this century.

NASA found that 2016 was 1.78 °C warmer while NOAA found 2016 was 1.69 °C warmer than the 20th century average. These agencies use the pre-industrial periods as a focal point for measuring climate change. This clearly shows the trends that we are witnessing since the 1970s and which are continuing without any pause. This value may not sound alarming, but on a planetary scale it’s a profound shift that has severely destroyed the coral reefs, thawed polar ice and affected agricultural planting zones across global borders. 

Direct temperature measurements stretch back to 1880, but scientific research indicates the world was last this warm about 115,000 years ago and that the planet has not experienced such high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere for 4 million years.

The new data shows the Earth has now risen about 1.1°C above the levels seen before the industrial revolution, when large-scale fossil fuel burning started. This value is perilously close to the 1.5°C target included as an aim of the global climate agreement that was signed in Paris in December 2015.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), observe that the extra heat from the powerful El Niño event has disappeared while the heat from global warming is and will continue. Due to climate change impact, the occurrence and impact of extreme weather events are continuing. The record breaking heat waves, droughts and flooding are expected to become more frequent and catastrophic. The WMO report mention that human-induced global warming has contributed to at least half the extreme weather events happened in recent years, with the risk of extreme heat increasing by 10 times in some cases.

The record-smashing temperatures in 2016 led to searing heat waves across the entire year. A new high of 42.7°C was recorded in Pretoria, South Africa in January; Mae Hong Son in Thailand saw 44.6 °C in April; Phalodi in India reached 51.0 °C in May and Mitribah in Kuwait recorded 54.0 °C in July. Warm oceans saw coral mortality of up to 50% in parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and bleaching of 75% of Japan’s biggest reef.

While the warming for the planet was just over 1C, the Arctic continued to warm much faster, with temperatures more than 3 C above what they were in previous decades. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average and we have also broken sea ice minimum records in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Many scientists believe 2017 is unlikely to break the record for a fourth consecutive year. That’s because El Nino, a natural phenomenon that creates more warming, may not be present this year. Forecasters expect a reprieve in 2017, with global temperatures roughly 0.84°C above the 20th century average. The climate change has not stopped or controlled. Humans are continuing to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, warming the planet in the long term.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Climate models consistently show that if CO2 continues to be released into the atmosphere at the current rate, temperatures will continue to climb well above 2°C.

Climate change is not like other issues that can be postponed from one year to the next. We are already behind; speed is of the essence, because climate change and its impacts are occurring sooner and with greater ferocity and intensity than anticipated.

Let us join voices, hands, hearts, talents and our creative abilities to prevent the looming catastrophe. Start making a few small changes and reduce GHG by:

- Changing light bulbs with energy efficient LED lighting

- Buying energy efficient appliances and replacing old electronics and machines. 

- Smartly practicing cooling system by cleaning and changing air filters regularly and programming thermostat. 

* Head, Waste Disposal Unit, Supreme Council for Environment, Bahrain (Email: rahmed@sce.gov.bh)


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