Last year was the warmest year ever.
Scientists from around the world released their analyses of global temperatures Wednesday morning, concluding that 2016 beat out 2015 as the hottest year on record by 0.07 degrees, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) – one of the agencies that analyzed temperature data – said in a news release.
The average global surface temperature (that includes land and sea) was 58.69 degrees in 2016, making it the hottest year since record keeping began in the 1880s, NOAA noted.
NOAA released the video below that shows how global temperatures have changed over the years. The maps at the beginning of the video (the 1880s to early 1900s) have a lot more blue than the maps later in the video. That's because the Earth was about 5.4 degrees cooler back then, but increasing human-made emissions like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere caused the average temperature to increase, the organization explains.
Temperatures on Earth were 1.98 degrees warmer (about 1.1 degree Celsius) than the pre-industrial average last year.
This shows we're inching closer to the goal set by the Paris Agreement in 2015, which aims to limit the global temperature rise this century to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, CNN points out.
2017 probably won't break any records
Last year marked the third year in a row to set a record for warmest average temperature, and it's the fifth time the record has been broken since the year 2000, NOAA says.
But climate experts don't expect 2017 to be warmer than 2016. That's because global warming doesn't necessarily mean each year the Earth is warmer than the next, with NASA explaining there's natural variability in temperatures due to weather patterns and weather phenomenons like La Niña and El Niño.
Scientists say it's unlikely we'll go four years in a row of breaking records, especially because 2017 began with La Niña – the cold phase of the natural climate pattern (read more about that here), NOAA notes.
“2016 is remarkably the third record year in a row in this series," Gavin Schmidt, of NASA, said in a news release. "We don’t expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear."
And the trend is what's worrisome, and is a sign that we're undergoing big changes, Deke Arndt, of NOAA, told the New York Times.
Warmer temps is only part of the story
World Meteorological Organization Secretary General Petteri Taalas said Wednesday that rising temperatures "only tell part of the story," noting there were other indicators that "human-caused climate change reached new heights in 2016."
Those indicators include carbon dioxide and methane concentrations reaching record levels (they both contribute to climate change) and the persistent loss of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic (this affects weather, climate and ocean patterns in other parts of the world), Taalas said.
These analyses of global temperature increases comes two days before Donald Trump becomes President of the United States, which is the world's second bigger carbon emitter.
His presidency has raised questions about what he'll do about climate change after he denied climate change exists; nominated cabinet members who have questioned the extent peoples' actions have on the Earth; and suggested rolling back some of President Barack Obama's efforts to fight climate change.
However, Trump and his cabinet nominees haven't detailed their climate policies, the New York Times notes.