New report shows 'extreme and unusual' climate trends from 2016 are continuing in 2017

Ice in Greenland.
(Image credit: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

The year 2016 saw "extreme and unusual" climate conditions, the World Meteorological Organization says, and they're sticking around.

To put together its State of the Global Climate 2016 report, the WMO looked at research from 80 national weather services. The organization found that in 2016, atmospheric CO2 rose to a new high, Arctic sea ice recorded a new winter low, and the year itself was the warmest on record. Compared to the 1961-1990 average, 2016 was .83 degrees Celsius warmer than average, and .06 degrees Celsius warmer than 2015 — the pervious warmest year on record. In the Arctic, temperatures were about 3 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average.

There were several extreme weather events in 2016, including devastating droughts in southern and eastern Africa and Central America, and Hurricane Mathew, which slammed into Haiti and across the North Atlantic, and this year, the Arctic is experiencing its own severe weather — so far, there have been at least three events that are the equivalent of a heat wave, with warm, moist air being pushed into the region by Atlantic storms. The report also said because of weather changes in the Arctic and the melting of sea ice, there has been a shift in atmospheric circulation patterns, which has led to more than 11,000 warm temperature records being shattered this year in the United States.

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President Trump has targeted global warming measures enacted by former President Barack Obama, and the new head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, has denied that CO2 is a primary contributor to climate change, causing scientists to speak out. "Human-driven climate change is now an empirically verifiable fact, combining year-to-year variability with the consequences of our release of extra greenhouse gases," Dr. Phil Williamson of the University of East Anglia told BBC News. "Those who dispute that link are not skeptics, but anti-science deniers."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.