Air & Weather: What Does the State of the Climate in 2016 Report Mean to You?

I've been hearing a lot lately about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) State of the Climate Report for 2016. This is an international, peer-reviewed, annual report summarizing global climate issues. It's assembled by NOAA at the National Centers for Environmental Information. Nearly 500 scientists from around the world contribute data for the report, including air and sea temperatures, ice pack conditions, humidity, number and strength of storms, drought conditions and more. The comprehensive report is then published as a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).

You can download the full report here, or from the link above you can download individual chapters if you prefer.

A summary of the report is available on NOAA's BAMS site, plus copies of all the past reports for the last 27 years. An interesting PowerPoint presentation on the report contains good graphics that visually show the report results.

There's also a page with simplified highlights of the report (in case you don't feel like reading all 298 pages), and an interactive map of extreme events and anomalies.

In essence, the report supports the theory of a warming planet. Record highs were set for:

  • Greenhouse gas concentrations
  • Global surface temperatures
  • Global lower tropospheric temperatures (the region of atmosphere just above the earth's surface)
  • Sea surface temperatures
  • Global average sea level
  • Arctic land surface temperature
Also, the Antarctic saw a record low sea ice extent. And the number of tropical cyclones across all ocean basins in 2016 (93) was well above average. 

The record heat was partially influenced by a strong El NiƱo during the first part of the year, which also affects other weather patterns including rainfall and drought. During 2016, NOAA launched a Rapid Response Field Campaign to study the major event and collected atmospheric data from the tropical Pacific where these weather systems originate.

I think the 2016 Climate Report is interesting and should encourage us to pay attention to continuing climate changes. I'm not a "sky is falling" type, but my years of experience in public works and utilities leads me to think we should ensure our infrastructure is capable of handling weather extremes.

And is it always a good idea to conserve resources and take care of our environment? Of course. My husband built a portable solar array to power his tools and such for his shop. And we've reduced our water usage to the lowest ever. Little things add up.

So, what does the State of the Climate Report for 2016 mean to you?


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