Bringing the Ocean to Society
24 Mar 2017
2016 was hottest year on record
Increased ocean temperatures, sea level rise and shrinking Arctic ice just some of the observations in 2016

The year 2016 made history, with a record global temperature, exceptionally low sea ice, and unabated sea level rise and ocean heat, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in its annual statement on the State of the Global Climate. Extreme weather and climate conditions have continued into 2017.

Ocean temperatures were above normal over most ocean areas. This contributed to significant coral bleaching and disruption of marine ecosystems in some tropical waters, including the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia, and Pacific island countries such as Fiji and Kiribati. Coral mortality of up to 50% was reported in parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

The most prominent area of below-normal sea surface temperatures was the Southern Ocean south of 45° South (especially around the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica, where temperatures were more than 1°C below normal in places).

Global sea levels rose very strongly between November 2014 and February 2016 as a result of the El Niño event, with the early 2016 values reaching new record highs.  Global sea ice extent dropped more than 4 million square kilometres below average in November, an unprecedented anomaly for that month.

The full statement can be found on the WMO website.