Chunks of sea ice, melt ponds and open water in a NASA image of the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Ocean last week. Global temperatures so far this year are higher than in the first half of 2015, and the warming was especially strong in the Arctic. Credit Operation IceBridge/NASA
The world is on pace to set another high temperature benchmark, with 2016 becoming the third year in a row of record heat.
NASA scientists announced on Tuesday that global temperatures so far this year were much higher than in the first half of 2015.
Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, said that while the first six months of 2015 made it the hottest half-year ever recorded, “2016 really has blown that out of the water.”
He said calculations showed there was a 99 percent probability that the full year would be hotter than 2015.
Dr. Schmidt said the world was now “dancing” with the temperature targets set last year in the Paris climate treaty for nations to limit climate change.
He attributed part of the rise in temperatures this year to El Niño, in which warming waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean pump a lot of heat into the atmosphere.
El Niño is now ending, and water temperatures in the Pacific are dropping, which should lead in 2017 to lower but still historically high temperatures.