Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Jump in 2014-2016 Global Temperatures Largest since 1900

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Jump in 2014-2016 Global Temperatures Largest since 1900

Article excerpt

Global surface temperatures surged by a record amount from 2014 to 2016, boosting the total amount of warming since the start of the last century by more than 25% in just three years, according to new research.

The Earth's average surface temperature climbed about 1.6[degrees]F (0.9[degrees]C) from 1900 to 2013. By analyzing global temperature records, the researchers found that by the end of 2016, the global surface temperature had climbed an additional 0.43[degrees]F (0.24[degrees]C).

The spike in warming from 2014 to 2016 coincided with extreme weather events worldwide, including heat waves, droughts, floods, extensive melting of polar ice and global coral bleaching. The new research shows that natural variability in the climate system is not sufficient to explain the 2014-2016 temperature increase, says co-author Cheryl Peyser.

The researchers also projected how frequent such big temperature spikes would be under four different greenhouse emission scenarios. Record-breaking temperature jumps and the accompanying extreme weather events will become more frequent unless greenhouse gas emissions decline, the team found.

Figuring out the mechanism for the temperature spike built on previous work by the researchers. The earlier work showed that although the Earth's surface warming had slowed from 1998 to 2013, heat from additional atmospheric greenhouse gases was being sequestered in the Pacific Ocean. The strong 2015-2016 El Nino roiled the ocean and released all the stored heat, causing a big jump in the Earth's surface temperatures.

The researchers analyzed observations of global mean surface temperatures from 1850 to 2016, ocean heat content from 1955 to 2016, sea level records from 1948 to 2016, and records of the El Nino climate cycle and a longer climate cycle called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. …

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