Folks, climate change is still out here messing things up. It brings me no pleasure to report this.
For 28 years running, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has put together its State of the Climate Report. More than 500 scientists from 65 countries contributed to this year’s edition, which was released on Wednesday in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. All that brain power reached a wholly unsurprising conclusion: The climate is a goddamn mess.
Last year was the third hottest year on record despite a weak La Niña cooling the tropical Pacific for part of the year. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have never been higher in human history. Sea levels also reached new heights, Arctic sea ice was in the gutter, and the upper ocean has never stored this much heat in recorded history.
The findings are based on research and analysis that has already dribbled out since the calendar turned to 2018, but the new report collates all of it. Despite all this information being widely known, seeing all the planetary mayhem created by rising carbon emissions is still a bit of a shock. Hell, I read or wrote about most of this stuff, and I’m still floored.
There’s a slew of other findings in the reports, broken down by continent and climate indicator. Jeff Rosenfeld, the editor-in-chief of the journal, likened the report to a nearly three-decade medical record of the planet.
“This is a checkup that carefully and precisely measures baselines,” Rosenfeld said on a press call. “Those baselines help us detect change and figure out what’s normal and what’s not over the long run.”
This year’s report shows that “normal” is now in very short supply.