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2016: global heat record broken again

19 Jan 2017


1. 2016 was the hottest year on record globally for the third year in a row. Climate change was the dominant factor in driving the record-breaking heat worldwide.

  • The global average temperature for 2016 was 0.94°C above the 20th century average, overtaking the previous record set in 2015 by 0.04°C.
  • The record global warmth of 2016 is part of a longterm trend. All of the world’s 10 warmest years have occurred since 1998. 2016 is the 40th consecutive year with above-average global temperatures.
  • No one aged under 40 has lived in a year with global average temperatures at or below the global 20th century average.

2. Climate change is worsening heat-related extreme weather conditions in Australia.

  • Autumn 2016 was Australia’s warmest on record and Perth had more 40°C days in the 2015/2016 summer than ever before.
  • Eight of the ten hottest years on record in Australia have occurred within the past two decades.
  • Averaged across Australia, temperatures for 10 of the 12 months of 2016 were above-average.
  • Ocean temperatures around Australia were record-breaking in 2016, 0.73 °C above average (1961-1990).

3. Increasing extreme heat is damaging to human health, our economy and the environment.

  • 2016’s extremely warm temperatures drove dramatic and unprecedented climate impacts, including the worst coral bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef’s history, an unparalleled largescale mangrove dieback in northern Australia and a major algae bloom in the Murray River.
  • Climate change made the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef 175 times more likely.
  • Increased temperatures driven by climate change are increasing the risk of heatwaves, bushfires and drought in Australia.

4. Record temperatures across many regions of the world are strongly influenced by climate change.

  • Eight months in 2016 broke global heat records, with March 2016 setting the highest departure from average for any month since records began in 1880.
  • An unprecedented sixteen months in a row of record monthly temperatures broke global records between May 2015 and August 2016.
  • The emission of greenhouse gases is driving record global heat. Countries including Australia must drastically reduce their emissions from coal, oil and gas to slow and then halt the escalating impacts of extreme heat.
  • We are rapidly closing the window of opportunity to limit warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels – this is the “guardrail” temperature referred to in the Paris Agreement to stabilise the climate and limit the catastrophic impacts of climate change.
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