When the environment is negatively affected by global human production, you begin to notice small changes in the atmosphere.

From warming seas to wild storms, there are many ways in which climate change is negatively affecting the environment.

One of these ways is an increase in the overall temperature of the earth. Let's take a look at the hottest year on record, and cover why it was the hottest year on record and how they measure this, among other things.

What’s the Hottest Year on Record?

So, what is definitively the hottest year currently on record? Climate Central believes that 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded.

NASA believes that 2017 is the third hottest year on record, while 2015 is the second warmest. 2016 is the hottest year on record without the presence of an El Nino in the Pacific Ocean.

2016

Hottest Year Recorded

2015

Second Warmest 

2017

Third Hottest Year Recorded

El Nino is a band of warm ocean water that is responsible for unusual weather activity, including a rise in temperatures. Although there was no El Nino is sight when this temperature was taken, the ocean globally was still the third hottest on record, too.

This highlights the ocean's role in long-term global patterns of recorded temperatures. Interestingly, the five highest recorded years have all landed in 2010. This is to say that five countries experienced their hottest year on record in 2010.

Another interesting fact around global temperatures is that the ten hottest years on record have all been recorded since 1998. Additionally, the twenty hottest years on record have all been recorded since 1995.

A combination of these collected temperatures gives the increase in the average global temperature at 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit. This is measured from the beginning of the industrial period until the present day.

The Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 was held to try and limit this rapid warming.

How Do They Measure the Hottest Year on Record?

Thermometer under the sun

Now that we know the hottest year on record - let's take a look at how these temperatures are measured.

Wikipedia explains that the instrumental temperature record is responsible for taking the earth’s temperature. It provides an accurate temperature of the Earth’s climate system, taking measurements from both surface ocean temperatures and air surface temperatures.

This data is collected by thousands of buoys, ships, and meteorological stations, globally.

Central England temperature data collections are the longest-running gathering of data, which began recording in 1659. The longest running global temperature record began in 1850.

In recent decades, there’s been an improvement of technology that’s allowed for more extensive sampling. This includes measuring deeper areas of ocean for temperature, gathering an estimate for the ocean’s heat content.

However, this particular measurement doesn’t contribute towards the global surface datasets of temperature.

There have been two significant periods of history that have noticed consistent warming in global temperatures. The first one occurred between 1900 and 1940, and the second one was recorded from 1970 onwards.

Ocean circulation patterns are sometimes responsible for a variation in the recording of temperatures, contributing to a plateau from time to time.

Why Do They Measure the Hottest Year on Record?

We’ve looked at how the earth’s temperature is taken every year. Now, let’s try to understand why scientists measure for the hottest year on record.

Sarah Lewin of Space explains that calculating the mean temperature of any given year is a lot easier than figuring out the absolute temperature.

She says that there is a good reason scientists are hesitant to measure the absolute temperature of the earth. This is because it’s a lot harder to be accurate with the absolute temperature than it is the median temperature.

While scientists can make statements about shifts in global temperatures from year to year, they can only get this down to 10ths and sometimes 100ths of the degree level.

Scientists attempt to estimate the absolute temperature year after year to get a good understanding of how the earth is changing as human production continues to affect the environment.

The reason why the change from year to year is easier to estimate than the absolute temperature is that changes in weather often correlate strongly with specific locations. Changes in temperature on a month to month basis can also correlate, even if they are taken in different places.

Causes of the Hottest Year on Record

smoke from the factory

We’ve looked in detail at how and why scientists continue to measure for the hottest year on record. Now, let’s take a look at a couple of catalysts that could be held responsible for this increase in temperature:

GREENHOUSE GASES:

Wikipedia continues by explaining that greenhouse gases trap any outgoing radiation from leaving the atmosphere. In turn, this warms the atmosphere, which inevitably leads to warming the land.

El Nino:

we’ve briefly mentioned El Nino and the role it plays in warmer temperatures. The opposite of El Nino is La Nina, which can be responsible for cooling years down now and then.

Aerosols:

while not all aerosols have a warming effect, some do. Carbon black and commercially manufactured aerosols may contribute to the increasing global temperature.

Land Use:

various land uses can have detrimental side effects. Stripping land of its natural forest and bush can increase greenhouse gases. This occurs through burning biomass.

Solar Radiation:

another factor that's responsible for the hottest year on record is incoming solar radiation. The eleven-year magnetic solar activity cycle causes incoming solar radiation to vary slightly. When it does, an increase in global temperatures is sometimes recorded.

What Does the Future Look Like as a Result of the Hottest Year on Record?

Temperature recordings like the hottest year on record don't come without adverse side effects.

Andrew Griffin of Independent explains that the warming global temperature is causing the ice in the Arctic to melt at an alarming rate. In fact, throughout 2017, it was at a record low for the first four months of the year.

With 2016 being the hottest year on record, the ocean can expect some changes in 2017. A worrying increase in coral bleaching could occur as a result of warming ocean temperatures.

Another weather phenomenon that we see more frequently is hurricanes. Hurricanes tend to dominate America, with hurricane Harvey occurring in August, closely followed by two more, Maria and Irma in September.

What is most surprising about this weather phenomenon is the location of hurricane Ophelia, which reached further north-east than any previously recorded hurricane.

2017 also saw a significantly heavy rainfall in Sierra Leone which caused a major landslide and flooding. In contrast, East Africa has continued to be a victim of drought.

All these patterns of unusual weather are only set to increase in frequency if the future holds more hottest years on record.

Other Environmental Shifts as a Result of Climate Change

smoke from industrial areas

We’ve discussed what the hottest year on record is, how and why it’s measured, and what has potentially caused it.

Now, let’s take a look at some other ways that humans and global production are negatively affecting the environment:

Pollution: 

Unfortunately, pollution is an issue and an offshoot of human production that's very negative and it is adversely affecting the environment. It's harmful because pollution is contaminating vital resources including the soil, water, and air.

Genetic Modification

Genetically modified organisms or GMO's are often used in the production of crops for human consumption. GMO's have their advantages and disadvantages. Herbicides have been used for decades to ward off weeds on crops. However, certain weed species have now developed a resistance to these herbicides.

Ocean Acidification:

Ocean acidification is another adverse side effect of too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide is dissolved into the ocean. It bonds with sea water and slowly increases the acidity of the sea. This increase in acidity can alter many species natural habitats, making them unliveable.

Looking at the Hottest Year on Record

man drinking water under the heat of the sun

It’s no coincidence that the hottest year on record, 2016, brought with it many unusual weather patterns.

The temperature of the earth and global weather patterns are interlinked. This means that if the earth continues to increase in temperature, we can expect more unpredictable weather that could have a detrimental effect on cities and even whole countries.

While the answer isn’t simple, there are a number of factors to consider when thinking about the hottest year on record in relation to climate change and global warming.

If we can all work together to bring this ever-increasing temperature down, we may see an improvement in the state of the environment.

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