Over just the past three years, global temperatures have risen by about 0.4 degrees Celsius. This was an extreme spike in the rate of warming. One that is unmatched in all of the past 136 years of climate record keeping.
During 2016, according to NASA, global temperatures hit 1.21 C above 1880s averages. This is a new record high to shatter all previous heat records. More to the point, the world’s atmosphere and oceans are now hotter than they’ve been in at least the past 100,000 years. This is considerable global warming. Enough to tip the world into a new climate age and bring about substantial geophysical changes.
The most glaring of these changes is the now impending rise of the world’s oceans. And as glaciers and ice shelves show signs of rapid melting in Greenland and Antarctica, we should consider the fact that the last time ocean surface and atmospheric temperatures were so warm, seas were 20 to 30 feet higher than they are today.
Warming across the world was not distributed evenly during 2016. And the Northern Hemisphere polar region, according to NASA, received the heaviest blow from rising atmospheric heat. Above the 80 degree North Latitude line, temperatures were fully 4.9 degrees Celsius above average for the period of an entire year.
As a result, one of the most vulnerable areas of the world — the Arctic Ocean — was subjected to extraordinary warming. A warming that is now removing a considerable chunk of heat-deflecting sea ice from the Arctic environment and helping to set the stage for further rapid Arctic warming and worsening glacial melt in Greenland.
All this heat in the global system means that the world has crossed a number of critical climate thresholds. This is a bad situation. Coastal cities and island nations are now in peril due to sea level rise. Both stable growing seasons and the stability of regional weather are also now at risk as worsening glacial discharge and changes to ocean surface heat distribution appear to be ongoing and imminent.
These are hard consequences. But even worse consequences are on the way unless fossil fuel emissions are rapidly reduced.
Hat tip to Colorado Bob
Hat tip to Joe T