The phenomenon of climate change is highly evident and denying it won’t change the fact that it is, in reality, human-induced. Human tendency to exert a negative influence on ecology has given rise to a rapid increase in burning of fossil fuels, emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, large-scale deforestation, loss of biodiversity, severe land degradation and environmental pollution.
After the debacles caused by climate change in 2015, the phenomenon didn’t give up its position as the primary global concern throughout 2016 as well.
With 2015 ending in the nations of the world putting up a united front against climate change in Paris, the entire course of 2016 was all about making the world aware of its devastating effects, while also initiating their respective strategies to reduce carbon footprints.
From reduction in biodiversity and animal extinction to the massive impact on sea ice in the Arctic region, the impacts of climate change and global warming have been haunting scientists and environmentalists, who are worried about the future of planet Earth. Whether it will be able to sustain its habitability in the years to come remains to be seen.
As 2016 comes to an end, it’s time to rewind and go into flashback mode to remind ourselves of the changes our home planet went through, courtesy climate change. Have a look!
2016 recorded as the hottest year in 136 years!
The months of April 2016 to October 2016 broke all records of being the warmest months in 136 years. However, scientists confirmed that 2016 as a whole has been the hottest year on record in 136 years.
The globe averaged 58.4 degrees (14.7 Celsius), which is 1.3 degrees (0.7 Celsius) warmer than the 20th-century average.
Scientists pointed fingers at man-made climate change as the biggest reason for this development, saying that the first 10 months of 2016 have been the hottest to date, averaging 59.15 degrees (15.07 Celsius). That beats 2015 by .18 degrees (.1 Celsius).
Read more here: 2016 on track to become hottest year on record
If this wasn't enough, in November, the World Metrological Organisation (WMO) confirmed the worst. The global temperature in 2016 was recorded as being 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level, thereby setting a new high for the third year running.
They also confirmed that every successive year after 2013 had set a record as the warmest year. This means that 2014, 2015 and 2016 have broken all records at being warmer and hotter than their predecessors, with 2016 being the hottest.
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia in danger?
One of the biggest evidences of climate change that the world came across was the devastating ordeal that the Great Barrier Reef went through.
In May, 2016, it was announced that 35 percent of the reef’s coral had been killed due to bleaching, courtesy the rising temperatures. The study that led to the findings also said that the health of the Great Barrier Reef had begun to decline in the 1990s, because of warming sea waters and an increase in its acidity through the rising presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Read all about it here: Bleaching kills 35 percent of coral in Great Barrier Reef
In September, reports saying that the coral reefs in Australia had almost recuperated from the bleaching epidemic started doing the rounds, which gave the impression that the corals in the Great Barrier Reef were merely resilient.
A three-minute video clip recorded on September 2 by Quicksilver Group, a private tour operator specializing in Great Barrier Reef tours in Queensland showed several international and local tourists attesting to that fact.
Read the report here: Great Barrier Reef quickly recuperating from coral bleaching epidemic!
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral system and is considered a priceless treasure of nature. Soon after reports of the coral reefs’ recuperation emerged, American space agency NASA decided to launch a two-month-long airborne mission to monitor the ecologically sensitive coral reefs in Australia. In October 2016, however, everything came to an end. The Great Barrier Reef’s coral treasure was declared dead. Killed by bleaching, the reef was a 25-million-year-old ecosystem which stretches for over 1,400 miles long with up to 2,900 individual reefs and 1,050 islands. Climate change, it seemed, had won and claimed its victim.
Read the report here: Climate change kills Great Barrier Reef, nature's spectacular treasure no longer with us
A new ray of hope, however, reached out to the world in December in the form of a report which said that the Great Barrier Reef was not on the verge of extinction after all, even though Australian authorities admitted that the ecosystem was under pressure from farming run-off, development, the crown-of-thorns starfish and climate change, which had led to its worst-ever bleaching event this year that devastated swathes of coral.
As per the report, an amount of more than Aus$2.0 billion (US$1.5 billion) have been settled for the protection of the reef over the next decade with the update highlighting progress on land management practices to prevent sediment run off, which helps spawn the coral-eating starfish.
Read the report here: Great Barrier Reef not on the verge of extinction
The frigid Arctic is turning green; sea ice melt at large!
It is common knowledge that the extent of climate change impact is being measured by monitoring the ice sheets of the Arctic sea. Unfortunately, scientists have long since confirmed that the Earth is losing a lot of ice each year and the process is far from slowing down.
29 years of data from satellite imageries extracted by the American space agency NASA in June, showed extensive greening in the Arctic, courtesy the rising temperatures.
With 87,000 images taken from Landsat satellites, the researchers found that western Alaska, Quebec and other regions became greener between 1984 and 2012.
There was an overall greening of 29.4 percent in the region, especially in shrublands and sparsely vegetated areas, while 2.9 percent showed vegetation decline.
Read all about it here: Climate change making the Arctic green, says NASA
Surprisingly, the Antarctic region seems to be more or less unaffected by climate change, barely showing any signs of ice loss.
In 2015, NASA came out with a shocking finding when they announced that instead of losing, Antarctica was in fact gaining ice. Scientists were obviously baffled by the development and decided to delve deeper into it.
In May 2016, NASA finally had their answer. They released a statement holding the geology of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean responsible for the phenomenon. They said that the topography of Antarctica and the depth of the ocean surrounding it were influencing winds and ocean currents, respectively, to drive the formation and evolution of Antarctica's sea ice cover and help sustain it.
Read the report here: Why are Antarctica ice-levels increasing? NASA has the answer!
However, come November, reports revealed that the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice had hit record lows. The ice melt had begun in October, as per a NASA scientist. This even took scientists by surprise, since Antarctic was doing quite well in terms of sea ice sustenance, while the ice loss in the Arctic region has begun to be considered the 'new normal'.
Read all about it here: Sea ice in Arctic and Antarctic at record low, says report
Soon after, researchers found that in the past 100 years, the sea ice in the Antarctic had barely suffered any damage. It was reported that the Antarctic has lost only 14 percent summer sea ice since the early 1900s.
As compared to the dramatic decline of sea ice in the Arctic, the Antarctic seems to show less sensitivity toward climate change, while scientists confirmed once again that the Antarctic had certainly witnessed sea ice gain over the last 30 years.
Read the full report here: Antarctic has barely changed in size in last 100 years, claim scientists
Global warming, though, is a phenomenon that doesn't give up. Scientists monitoring the poles noted that the total amount of sea ice loss as of December 4, could match up to the entire area of India.
What has worried the scientists further is the appearance of blue lakes in August, which makes them believe that the Antarctic is showing sings of a delayed response to climate change.
The Arctic's southern counterpart is still losing ice, albeit at a slow pace, and scientists fear that the eventual consequences won't be good.