Climate report: Hottest year, highest greenhouse gas marks, record sea levels

Posted at 4:59 PM, Aug 10, 2017

The records highlighted in the "State of the Climate in 2016" report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sound ominous.

• Global land surface temperatures last year were highest in 137 years of record keeping.

• Sea surface temperatures were also at their highest.

• Sea levels were at record highs in the 24 years that satellite record keeping has been used.

• Greenhouse gas marks rose faster than any year and carbon dioxide readings were above a 400 parts per million average for the year for the first time.

NOAA's report pointed out that the heat in 2016 resulted from a strong El Niño early in the year and long-term global warming.

El Niños are weather phenomena that warm the Pacific Ocean and pump lots of excess heat into the atmosphere, raising temperatures.

They are only one factor in the warming of the planet. Climate scientists have said the role of an El Niño is a relatively small one when compared to the role that humans play.

Confirmation of January report

The report confirmed what NOAA, along with the World Meteorological Organization, announced in January about global temperatures.

According to the report released Thursday, the global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.45?-0.56?C above the average for 1981 to 2010. The temperature was also more than 1?C over the pre-industrial average.

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement set a goal of capping warming at 1.5 degrees over the pre-industrial average.

2016 was the third consecutive year of record warmth, NOAA, an agency in the Commerce Department, said.

The release comes days after news that the authors of a not-yet-released federal report on climate change worry the White House will intervene before their findings can be published. On Monday the New York Times published a previously released draft of the special science section of the National Climate Assessment that is posted online.

CNN was told the version of the draft that is awaiting Trump administration approval has since been revised twice, although the main findings of the report are still in line with the findings in the version of the draft published by the Times.

The authors say their fears are rooted in the overall message emanating from the Trump administration.

"We have yet to see any pushback, there's been no muzzling, but the uncertainly comes from an obvious place," an author of the report who asked not to be named said. "If the administration is backing out of the Paris agreement and there's not a strong backing of the idea of human caused climate change, than our report will most surely come into conflict with some of those stated ideas."

A White House official told CNN it will "withhold comment on any draft report before its scheduled release date."