With a boost from El Nino, 2016 began with a bang. For eight consecutive months, January to August, the globe experienced record warm heat. With this as a catalyst, the 2016 globally averaged surface temperature ended as the highest since record keeping began in 1880, according to scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).
The average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces in 2016 was 58.69 degrees F or 1.69 degrees F above the 20th century average. This surpassed last year’s record by 0.07 degrees F. Since the start of the 21st century, the annual global temperature record has been broken five times (2005, 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016).
Despite the cooling influence of a weak La Nina in the latter part of the year, the year ended with the third warmest December on record for the globe, with an average temperature 1.42 degrees F above the 20th century average.
In a separate analysis of global temperature data released at the same time, scientists from NASA also found 2016 to be the warmest year on record.
More noteworthy findings from 2016:
The globally averaged sea surface temperature was the highest on record, 1.35 degree F above average.
The globally averaged land surface temperature was the highest on record, 2.57 degrees F above average.
North America had its warmest year on record; South America and Africa had their second; Asia and Europe had their third; and Australia had its fifth.
The average Arctic sea ice extent for the year was 3.92 million square miles, the smallest annual average since record-keeping began in 1979.
The average Antarctic sea ice extent for the year was 4.31 million square miles, the second smallest annual average since record-keeping began in 1979.