We just broke the record for hottest year, nine straight times

Earth’s record hottest 12 consecutive months were set in each month ending in September 2015 through May 2016.

2014 and 2015 each set the record for hottest calendar year since we began measuring surface temperatures over 150 years ago, and 2016 is almost certain to break the record once again. It will be without precedent: the first time that we’ve seen three consecutive record-breaking hot years.

But it’s just happenstance that the calendar year begins in January, and so it’s also informative to compare all yearlong periods. In doing so, it becomes clear that we’re living in astonishingly hot times.

June 2015 through May 2016 was the hottest 12-month period on record. That was also true of May 2015 through April 2016, and the 12 months ending in March 2016. In fact, it’s true for every 12 months going all the way back to the period ending in September 2015, according to global surface temperature data compiled by Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way. We just set the record for hottest year in each of the past 9 months.

 

These record temperatures have been assisted by a very strong El Niño event, which brought warm water to the ocean surface, temporarily warming global surface temperatures. But today’s temperatures are only record-setting because the El Niño was superimposed on top of human-caused global warming.

For comparison, 1997–1998 saw a very similar monster El Niño event. And similarly, the 12-month hottest temperature record was set in each month from October 1997 through August 1998. That was likewise a case of El Niño and global warming teaming up to shatter previous temperature records.

The difference is that while September 1997–August 1998 was the hottest 12-month period on record at the time; it’s now in 60th place. It’s been surpassed by yearlong periods in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Many of those years weren’t even aided by El Niño events; unassisted global warming made them hotter than 1998.

Global surface temperatures are now more than 0.3°C hotter than they were in 1997–1998. That’s a remarkable rise over just 18 years, in comparison to the 1°C the Earth’s average surface temperatures have risen since the Industrial Revolution began.

This has all happened during a time when ‘no significant warming in 18 years’ has been one of the rallying cries of climate denial. In reality, when we compare apples to apples – El Niño years to El Niño years – we’ve seen more than 0.3°C global surface warming over the past 18 years, which is in line with climate model predictions. ‘Climate models are wrong’ has been another now-debunked climate denial rallying cry.

Now that the past year’s El Niño event is over, the streak of record-breaking yearlong periods appears to have ended. Nevertheless, 2016 remains on track to break that record for the hottest calendar year, for an unprecedented third consecutive year, following record years in 2010 and 2005 as well.

With the Earth warming dangerously rapidly, at a rate 20–50 times faster than the fastest rate of natural global warming, one can’t help but wonder when the influence of the small minority of disproportionately powerful climate denial groups will wane.

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195 countries pledged to curb their carbon pollution in the tremendously successful Paris climate negotiations, but climate denial is still predominant in one of America’s two political parties, and may be gaining foothold in other regions of the Anglosphere like the UK and Australia. Fortunately, many other countries like China, India, and Canada seem to be moving in the right direction with their climate and energy policies.

Now that climate denial’s bread and butter arguments are toast, November’s US elections will be critical in determining whether the country continues along the path of climate leadership established by President Obama, or allows the oil industry’s puppet party to continue peddling long-debunked myths in order to delay climate action and put future generations at risk.

With global warming constantly breaking temperature records, and dozens of scientific organizations warning policymakers that “To reduce the risk of the most severe impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be substantially reduced,” we can no longer use ignorance as an excuse.

Leonardo DiCaprio wants his L.A. friends to fly halfway across the world to fight global warming

In an attempt to save the planet from climate change, Leonardo DiCaprio has found himself in hot water.

The Oscar-winning actor is hosting an exclusive gala in St. Tropez to raise money to stop global warming — and is asking his celebrity guests to fly halfway around the world to attend.

Many are criticizing DiCaprio’s event, arguing that flying from Los Angeles, where many guests live, to the south of France is not environmentally friendly, as private jets in particular leave a serious carbon footprint.

Hollywood elites including Kate Hudson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert De Niro and Kevin Spacey are expected to be among the 500 guests, alongside wealthy philanthropists and business tycoons.

Danny Harvey, a professor who specializes in global warming and energy efficiency at the University of Toronto, said that while airplanes can be harmful, the outcome of the fundraiser may be worth traveling to Europe.

“OK, there’s some C02 emissions, but what are the benefits of this one event? Maybe the benefits outweigh it,” Harvey said.

The event — The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Annual Gala To Fund Climate and Biodiversity Projects — reportedly raised US$40 million last year, and this year’s July 20 fundraiser aims to help fund research and project grants for climate change.

The Daily Mail reported that tables at the gala’s dinner range from US$77,000 to US$160,000.

“If (guests) want to have the lowest impact, they should go economy class in a big commercial airline on a non-stop flight,” Harvey said.

“Private jets might be harder to justify, unless everyone is going in the same jet.”

Gideon Forman, a climate change policy analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation, echoed Harvey’s stance, and said traveling in the day has less impact than flying at night.

“If this is the only way to do it, and this is a crucial climate meeting, that would be some reason to go ahead, because the climate issue is so pressing,” Forman said.

“You can also buy carbon offsets…that’s another thing the participants can do.”

  • Published in World

Ozone layer ‘to heal’ by 2050, hole shrank by 4 million sq km in last 15yrs – researchers

The hole in the ozone layer has diminished by 4 million sq km since 2000 and could heal completely by 2050, scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have shown in their latest study, which appeared in the journal Science.

The changes have happened largely due to the Montreal Protocol adopted in 1987 that oversaw the ban of chemicals.

“We can now be confident that the things we’ve done have put the planet on a path to heal,” lead author Susan Solomon, the professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT, has said, as quoted by the university’s news outlet.

“Which is pretty good for us, isn’t it? Aren’t we amazing humans, that we did something that created a situation that we decided collectively, as a world, ‘Let’s get rid of these molecules’? We got rid of them, and now we’re seeing the planet respond.”

The process wasn’t uniform, though. At times it slowed, mainly due to the effect of volcanic eruptions.

 
The ozone hole was first found back in the 1950s, and some 30 years later, researchers from the British Antarctic survey paid attention to the fact the ozone layer was depleting.

So what destroys ozone in general? The chemical is sensitive to chlorine originating from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) emitted by dry cleaning processes, old refrigerators, and aerosols such as hairspray. However, there are other factors that trigger the depletion, including temperature and sunlight. It should be cold with light present to start the ozone-chlorine reaction, with this fact discovered in 1987 by none other than Susan Solomon, lead author of the latest research.

Ozone depletion over Antarctica begins in late August - deep winter at the South Pole, but with daylight returning - and the hole is formed by October. In the latest study, though, researchers decided to look at the hole while it is still forming, in September.

“I think people, myself included, had been too focused on October, because that’s when the ozone hole is enormous, in its full glory,” Solomon said.

“But October is also subject to the slings and arrows of other things that vary, like slight changes in meteorology. September is a better time to look because chlorine chemistry is firmly in control of the rate at which the hole forms at that time of year. That point hasn’t really been made strongly in the past,” she added.

Researchers have looked at the ozone hole in September over the past 15 years, examining ozone data taken from weather balloons and satellites. They also measured sulfur dioxide emitted by volcanoes, which can also add to the ozone depletion. Finally, they tracked meteorological factors such as temperature and wind.

What they found was startling: the ozone hole had shrunk by 4 million sq km by 2015. And the predictions for the future are good.

“It’s been interesting to think about this in a different month, and looking in September was a novel way. It showed we can actually see a chemical fingerprint, which is sensitive to the levels of chlorine, finally emerging as a sign of recovery,” Diane Ivy, research scientist with MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, said.

An interesting detail for the scientists was that the ozone depletion spiked in 2015, but this was mainly because of the eruption of the Chilean volcano Calbuco, which emitted small particles that increased the amount of polar clouds that reacts with the human-made chlorine.

However, Solomon sees no reason why the ozone hole shouldn’t close forever by 2050.

“What’s exciting for me personally is, this brings so much of my own work over 30 years full circle. Science was helpful in showing the path, diplomats and countries and industry were incredibly able in charting a pathway out of these molecules, and now we’ve actually seen the planet starting to get better. It’s a wonderful thing,” she said.

Death from Air Pollution Will Double or Triple by 2060

PARIS – The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, stressed in a report published on Thursday that death rates due to air pollution in the world will double or triple by the year 2060 if the rates of pollution remained high.

NOAA's 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook

Every year, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issue a seasonal outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season. Hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and ends November 30. Read the full report from NOAA here:

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