Global heat records broken for a third year in a row

18.01.17 By
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Worldwide heat records have been broken again, with 2016 declared the hottest for a third consecutive year, a new Climate Council report has revealed.

New global temperature data from NOAA, NASA and the UK Met Office released overnight have shown that 2016 continued the worsening long-term heat trend. NOAA announced that the average worldwide temperature throughout the year was 0.94°C above the 20th century average.

The data show that 2016 surpassed the previous record set in 2015 by 0.04°C. Whilst the UK’s Met Office confirmed that 2016 was 1.1°C above the pre-industrial baseline.

The Climate Council’s 2016: Global Heat Record Broken Again report, which analyses the data in an Australian and global context, found that 16 of the 17 hottest years on record globally have occurred this century.

The report also found:

The Climate Council’s Professor Will Steffen said some of the worst climate impacts to date were seen in 2016.

“2016’s extremely warm temperatures drove dramatic and unprecedented impacts, including the worst coral bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef’s history, an unparalleled large-scale mangrove dieback in northern Australia, a major algae bloom in the Murray River, and devastating bushfires in Tasmania’s World Heritage forests” he said.

“Record breaking heat was evident worldwide. North America had its hottest year on record, while Asia experienced its warmest January – October on record. India’s heatwaves were particularly severe with temperatures reaching a staggering 51°C in Phalodi.”

Professor Steffen said the latest global heat record adds to the long-term trend of rapidly rising temperature, undeniable evidence of the impact of the burning of coal, oil and gas on the global climate.

“Month after month, year after year, we are seeing records fall and every year without effective action makes the task of applying the brakes on the long-term trend more difficult.

“Although global greenhouse gas emissions have flat lined for three years in a row and countries have pledged to do everything possible to limit global temperature rise to less than two degrees, we aren’t moving nearly fast enough on emission reductions.”

“Global emissions need to be dropping rapidly over the next two decades if we are to have any hope of meeting the Paris 2°C target. Australia needs to do its fair share in this global challenge, and yet, with our emissions still rising, we are rapidly becoming known as the world’s leading laggard on climate action.

“The window of opportunity we have to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change is almost closed. We have to rapidly transition away from coal, oil and gas if we are to stabilise the climate in a state anywhere near that in which all human civilisations have developed.

For more information or to schedule an interview please contact Climate Council Media Advisor Alexia Boland on 0430 511 068 and at


Preview image credit: “Low Summer Sun” by Flickr user Not That Bob James licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0