Last month was the second-hottest October on record, NASA reported Tuesday. Combined with a record-smashing January through September — and a very warm November — this new data guarantee that 2016 will demolish the previous record for hottest year, set way back in 2015.
Of course, 2015 itself crushed the previous record for hottest year that was set in 2014 — a three-year run never seen in the 136 years of temperature records.
Dr. Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, wants everyone to know that our current man-made global warming is indifferent to politics:
No surprise here, planetary warming does not care about the election. Now including October data. pic.twitter.com/SEUbaNRaxT
— Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin) November 15, 2016
Climatologists actually predicted this latest “jump” in global temperatures.
There is “a vast and growing body of research,” Climate Central explained in February 2015, indicating that “humanity is about to experience a historically unprecedented spike in temperatures.” One 2015 study concluded that we could even see Arctic warming rise an alarming 1°F (0.56°C) per decade by the next decade.
Speaking of the Arctic, look again at the top map from NASA. Large parts of the Arctic super-heated in October, as much 15.6 6°F (8.7°C) above the 1951–1980 mean temperature. No surprise, then, that last month saw the lowest October ice extent on record and that “as of November 1, sea ice volume is lowest on record.”
Recent research finds that rapid Arctic warming and sea ice loss are already worsening extreme weather. Amplified warming also means that the rapidly melting Greenland ice sheet, which is already unstable, will disintegrate even faster, boosting sea level rise more than previously estimated, upwards of six feet this century.
Finally, our current period of rapid Arctic warming sea ice loss threatens to speed up the release of vast amounts of carbon from thawing permafrost. This dangerous amplifying feedback alone could add as much as 1.5°F (0.8°C) to total planetary warming this century.
The only way to stop this vicious cycle of ever-more dangerous threats is through a global effort to slash carbon pollution deeply and rapidly. Tragically, elections can and do affect whether major emitters like the United States will keep trying to solve the problem — or become a major reason we don’t.