2016 was Hot, but was it the Hottest?


Andrew Zhang, News Editor

2016 was only the second hottest year for the United States.  Déjà vu.  Previously, 2015 was the second hottest year for the U.S.  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average temperature for the continental U.S. was 54.9°F, second to 2012 when the average temperature was 55.3°F.  All states, except Georgia and Alaska, had temperatures that were well above average.  Georgia had its warmest year on record while Alaska has its third consecutive warmest year.  NOAA has also noted that for the last 20 years, the continental U.S. has surpassed the all-time average temperature for the U.S.

On the other hand, 2016 was the hottest year on record for the world, Earth’s third straight year of record-breaking temperatures.  Separate reports by NOAA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) both reached this conclusion.  While cyclical phenomena, such as El Niño, may have recently contributed to rising temperatures, greenhouse gases are the long-term problem.  Their increasing atmospheric concentrations are leading to warmer temperatures, which increase the frequency and severity of storms, especially tropical cyclones.  Coastal areas and biodiversity are impacted as well.

Slowing down the rate of temperature increase is a massive challenge. While some steps have been taken in the right direction, such as the Paris Agreement, it looks like 2017 will be another year of record heat.