CLIMATE

Earth melts temperature record for 3rd straight year

The planet reached its highest average surface temperature on record in 2016, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported today. It was the third consecutive year that a new global annual temperature record was set.

With a boost from the El Niño weather phenomenon, officials said, the globe experienced eight consecutive months of record warm heat from January to August last year. And despite the cooling influence of a weak La Niña, the year ended with the third-warmest December on record.

The average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces in 2016 was 58.69 degrees Fahrenheit, which was 1.69 degrees above the 20th-century average, according to NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.

Heat extremes hit the Arctic hard, scientists noted. Sea ice there declined to the smallest annual average since record-keeping began in 1979.

Since the start of the 21st century, the annual global temperature record has been broken five times. News of the milestones comes as Americans are increasingly certain about the risk of climate change.

The proportion of Americans who are "extremely" or "very" sure global warming is happening is at 45 percent, reflecting its highest level in six years, according to national survey data released today.

Polling conducted shortly after the 2016 election by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found increasing concern.

Six in 10 American adults said they were "very" or "somewhat" worried about global warming, according to the survey, which polled 1,226 people aged 18 and older from Nov. 18 to Dec. 1, 2016.

The number of Americans who were "very worried" about global warming also reached a record high of 19 percent, according to researchers.

Likewise, respondents said they increasingly viewed rising temperatures as a problem to developing countries, people in the United States, future generations, their families and themselves.

The research was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Energy Foundation, the Grantham Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. It has a 3-percentage-point margin of error.

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