WMO Confirms 2016 Was Hottest Year on Record

Carbon dioxide emissions also reached record levels, while sea temperatures rose, and many parts of the world experienced incidences of extreme weather.

By Isabel Putinja
Apr. 18, 2017 07:12 UTC

A state­ment by the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issued on March 21 ahead of World Meteorological Day con­firmed that 2016 was the hottest year on record.

We are now in truly uncharted ter­ri­tory.- David Carlson, World Climate Research

The WMO press release announced the pub­li­ca­tion of its annual Statement on the State of the Global Climate which revealed that 2016 expe­ri­enced a record tem­per­a­ture that was 1.1 °C above the pre-indus­trial period. This rep­re­sents an increase of 0.06 °C above the pre­vi­ous record set in the year 2015.

This increase in global warm­ing is attrib­uted to the El Niño effect which causes extreme weather fluc­tu­a­tions, and increas­ing green­house gas emis­sions. The WMO’s annual state­ment also revealed that car­bon diox­ide emis­sions reached record lev­els in 2016 (at 400.0 ± 0.1 parts per mil­lion in the atmos­phere), while global sea ice caps have melted more than expected and sea lev­els risen as a result.

2016 also saw an increase in sea tem­per­a­tures and envi­ron­men­tal crises like drought, espe­cially in south­ern and east­ern Africa and parts of Central America, and severe floods in east­ern and south­ern Asia.

The report also notes that the first few months of 2017 have been char­ac­ter­ized by extreme weather and cli­mate con­di­tions” in some parts of the world.

Even with­out a strong El Niño in 2017, we are see­ing other remark­able changes across the planet that are chal­leng­ing the lim­its of our under­stand­ing of the cli­mate sys­tem. We are now in truly uncharted ter­ri­tory,” David Carlson, pro­gram direc­tor of World Climate Research is quoted as say­ing in the press release.

The report lists a few exam­ples of recent extreme weather con­di­tions, like warmer than usual tem­per­a­tures dur­ing the first few months of 2017 in the US and Canada: In February 2017, 11,743 warm tem­per­a­ture records in the US were bro­ken or tied.

Meanwhile, parts of the Arabian penin­sula and North Africa were hit with unsea­son­ably cold tem­per­a­tures, while parts of Australia expe­ri­enced pro­longed heat waves and record tem­per­a­tures in January and February.

The WMO’s data is com­piled based on inter­na­tional datasets pro­vided by sev­eral global cli­mate analy­sis cen­ters, and their annual state­ment includes infor­ma­tion pro­vided by sev­eral UN agen­cies and inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions on the social and eco­nomic impacts of cli­mate change.

Bad weather and drought sit­u­a­tions in the spring and sum­mer of 2016 have been blamed for the poor olive har­vests in Spain, Italy, Greece and France, result­ing in a sharp drop in over­all world olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Though the olive tree is a hardy plant that can with­stand harsh con­di­tions, it is not immune to adverse weather and sud­den cli­matic changes. But accord­ing to some experts, global warm­ing can be a bless­ing in dis­guise for olive cul­ti­va­tion because it can anni­hi­late the olive fly, while oth­ers main­tain that snow and cold can also reduce the inci­dence of olive fly infes­ta­tions and help pro­duc­tion as a result.

Following a short spell of cold weather and snow in some parts of Europe in early 2017 and an early onset of spring, it’s too early to pre­dict if this will present a set­back for the 2017/2018 olive sea­son, and whether other adverse weather con­di­tions are to be expected.


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