Last year was Earth’s warmest on record, according to an international climate report issued Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that documents other record-breaking global warming trends of 2016.
The report is the most comprehensive assessment of the effects of climate change released by the Trump administration, and it could make it easier to refute efforts from the president and his Cabinet members to publicly discount climate science as they have frequently done in the past.
However, the annual report does not detail the link between climate change and human activities such as burning coal or gasoline. Those conclusions are drawn in a separate draft portion of the National Climate Assessment highlighted by The New York Times earlier this week.
The “State of the Climate” publication, which confirms findings released before President Donald Trump was sworn in, outlines the observed outcomes of swiftly rising temperatures. They include the highest sea levels ever recorded, extremes in rain cycles and declines in global ice and snow cover.
More from Science Daily:
In response to the past three years’ record-breaking temperatures, authors of the new study calculated the likelihood of observing a three-year streak of record high temperatures since yearly global temperature records began in the late 19th century and the likelihood of seeing such a streak since 2000, when much of the warming has been observed. The study’s authors determined how likely this kind of event was to happen both with and without the influence of human-caused warming.
The new study considers that each year is not independent of the ones coming before and after it, in contrast to previous estimates that assumed individual years are statistically independent from each other. There are both natural and human events that make temperature changes cluster together, such as climate patterns like El Niño, the solar cycle and volcanic eruptions, according to Mann.
When this dependency is taken into account, the likelihood of these three consecutive record-breaking years occurring since 1880 is about 0.03 percent in the absence of human-caused climate change. When the long-term warming trend from human-caused climate change is considered, the likelihood of 2014-2016 being the hottest consecutive years on record since 1880 rises to between 1 and 3 percent, according to the new study.