2016 Was Second-Warmest Year on Record in U.S., NOAA reports

The average temperature of the lower 48 states reached the second-highest level in the historical record in 2016, the government said Monday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that only 2012 had been warmer in archives stretching to 1895.

The near-record average temperature was influenced by the long-term global warming trend caused by human emissions, scientists said, as well as by a burst of heat from the El NiƱo climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean. Among the 48 states, only Georgia set a temperature record in 2016, though several states in the Northeast came close, while every state was well above its 20th-century average temperature.

"The breadth of the 2016 warmth is unparalleled in the nation's climate history," NOAA said. "No other year had as many states breaking or close to breaking their warmest annual average temperature."

This month, NOAA and several other monitoring agencies are expected to report that 2016 was the warmest year on a global scale since 1880, the third record-breaking year in a row for the planet. Most experts say they believe 2017 will be somewhat cooler than 2016, but they expect the long-term pattern of relentless global warming to continue because of the continuing buildup of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.

New York Times