And the data is in. September 2016 was officially the hottest September on record, beating the previous record holding month set in 2014 by a razor-thin margin. This simply adds once again to the hottest month records stacking up, but more significantly, it all but guarantees that 2016 will be the hottest year on record.
The all too familiar news, which we have been hearing each and every month for the past 12 consecutive months, has been announced by NASA. September this year was found to be 0.91C (1.6F) hotter than the 1951-1980 average used by the organization as their benchmark. But as we’ve explained a countless number of times, because the planet has been warming at an accelerated pace since at least the 1880s when the industrial revolution kicked off, the real figure is undoubtedly much higher.
While as early as May there was thought to be a 99 percent chance 2016 would smash the yearly record, this latest data set means that 2016 “seems locked in” to be the warmest according to NASA’s Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Gavin Schmidt. The current prediction suggests that the year will be somewhere around 1.25°C (2.25°F) warmer than average.
Last month only just beat the previous record, by around 0.004°C (0.0072°F), which means that by some measures it is actually a tie with September 2014, and may lose the crown of hottest September when the numbers are reanalysed. But it is indicative of a far more worrying trend. While NASA’s stats mean that 11 out of the last 12 consecutive months have been the warmest, the figures from the NOAA found that July was already the 14th hottest month in a row.
This record-setting streak is expected to slow as the heat-busting El Niño fades. But as Schmidt has already pointed out, the records would likely have been set regardless, just perhaps not by the record-shattering margins that we have seen. And regardless, the trend of each year getting warmer and warmer is plain for anyone to see.
With an increase in extreme weather events, from droughts to wildfires, the global climate is undoubtedly changing. From November 4 the Paris climate agreement will come into force, meaning that all nations will be legally bound to reduce their carbon emissions. Whether this will be enough in time, will have to be seen.
Monthly temperature anomalies with base 1980-2015, superimposed on a 1980-2015 mean seasonal cycle. NASA/GISS/Schmidt