If you’re thinking it has been an abnormally warm December, you’re not alone.
This year has surpassed all modern records. You were more likely to have a BBQ in your backyard than snow angels on Christmas Day across many parts of Britain which experienced one of the warmest Christmasses on record.
And the UK’s Met office predicts that 2017 will keep in the trend of the last few years, with the global average temperature for next year expected to be between 0.63°C and 0.87°C above the long-term average.
“This forecast, which uses the new Met Office supercomputer, adds weight to our earlier prediction that 2017 will be very warm globally but is unlikely to exceed 2015 and 2016: the two warmest years on record since 1850,” said the Met Office’s Professor Adam Scaife.
The forecast for 2017 is placed slightly below that of 2016, as El Niño – an irregular weather cycle that brings warm water in the Pacific Ocean to the Americas – won’t apply this coming year. The forecast doesn’t, however, take into account phenomenal events such as large volcanic eruptions, which can cause temporary effects.
Climate deniers have already jumped at the opportunity to comment on the fractionally cooler forecast for 2017 as proof that climate change is a hoax.
But Professor Chris Folland, from the Met Office, says El Nino is only responsible for a fraction of the warming, with emissions from burning fossil fuels continuing to be the main driver.
“El Niño only accounts for 0.2°C of the global mean temperature rise for 2016. When compared with the long-term average between 1961 and 1990, increasing greenhouse gases are the main cause of warming since pre-industrial times,” he said.
And in the UK we’re seeing nature responding to these changes, Richard Betts, Climate Research Fellow at the Met Office, told DeSmog UK.
“Signs of spring leaves emerging, migrating birds, [are] coming earlier now than they used to. You can’t say what event would not have happened without climate change but what you can say is whether it has become more likely,” he said.
Local temperature changes can also have a significant impact on what people think about climate change.
A new study shows that people are more or less likely to think climate change is happening depending on how often they’ve experienced higher or lower than average temperatures. That has implications for trying to persuade people to act on climate change.
“When personal experience and expert opinion don’t align on a topic that’s not critical to an individual’s well-being, they’re going to go with their gut rather than what the expert tells them,” said Robert Kaufmann, the study’s lead author in Scientific American.
The record Christmas temperatures in the UK come a year after the historic Paris Climate Agreement was signed.
It was ratified by 118 countries ahead of the United Nation’s COP22 in Marrakech in November 2016, where nations reinforced their pledges to keep the world’s average temperature increase under 2°C of warming.
There is little time to spare. A study published in Nature earlier this year showed the window for avoiding 1.5C of warming had practically “closed”.
That means nations must significantly ramp up their efforts, and fast, if they are to meet their climate pledges for 2020.
Photo: Alison Rawson via Geography CC 2.0