Capital Weather Gang Scientists react to Earth’s warmest year: ‘We are heading into a new unknown’

Capital Weather Gang Scientists react to Earth’s warmest year: ‘We are heading into a new unknown’

Mon February 20th, 2017
Lauren Hinkel

The Washington Post, along with other publications, recently reported that 2016 was the third warmest year in recorded history for Earth. The outlet queried climate scientists on what this meant. And while some climate and weather factors contributed to the high temperatures, PAOC's Kerry Emanuel wants us to focus on larger trends.

Reaction: ‘Focus on the long-term trends’

The frequent breaking of previous high temperature records is consistent with the general warming trend, but it would be a mistake to focus on one particular metric. There will no doubt be stretches of many years ahead of us where such records are not broken.

Rather, one must focus on the long-term trends. Here, the clear signals of long-term planetary warming, rising sea levels, retreating alpine glaciers, and thinning and shrinking arctic sea ice are all in line with physics-based predictions of the response of our planet to increasing greenhouse gases. They are the canaries-in-the-mine that warn us that we are putting our descendants at risk.

— Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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