2016 was the hottest year on record for Earth, making it the third consecutive year to break global temperatures records of the last 137 years, US climate scientists have confirmed. Last year's record heat resulted from the combined influence of long-term global warming and a strong El Nino early in the year, according to the State of the Climate in 2016 report by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The report found that the major indicators of climate change continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet. Several markers such as land and ocean temperatures, sea level, and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere broke records set just one year prior. The report is based on contributions from nearly 500 scientists from more than 60 countries around the world and reflects tens of thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets. Major greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide, rose to new record high values during 2016. The global annual average atmospheric CO2 concentration was 402.9 parts per million (ppm), which surpassed 400 ppm for the first time in the modern atmospheric measurement record and in ice core records dating back as far as 800,000 years. This was 3.5 ppm more than 2015, and it was the largest annual increase observed in the 58-year record. Aided by the strong El Nino early in the year, the 2016 annual global surface temperature observed record warmth for a third consecutive year, with the 2016 annual global surface temperature surpassing the previous record of 2015. The globally averaged sea surface temperature was the highest on record. The more recent global sea surface temperature trend for the 21st century-to-date (2000-2016) of 1.62 degree Celsius per century is much higher than the longer term (1950-2016) warming trend of 1.0 degrees Celsius per century. Global average sea level rose to a new record high in 2016 and was about 3.25 inches higher than the 1993 average, the year that marks the beginning of the satellite altimeter record. This also marks the sixth consecutive year global sea level has increased compared to the previous year. Over the past two decades, sea level has increased at an average rate of about 0.13 inch per year, with the highest rates of increase in the western Pacific and Indian Oceans. During August and November, record low daily and monthly Antarctic sea ice extents were observed, with the November average sea ice extent significantly smaller than the 1981- 2010 average. These record low sea ice values in austral spring 2016 contrast sharply with the record high values observed during 2012-2014.
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