Home >Science >Health >Earth continues to be on record-breaking spree

New Delhi: Halfway into 2016, the Earth has already broken several records and the news is not good. Here’s a look at a few records that have been broken this year and why we should worry about these.

Rising carbon dioxide in Antarctica: On 15 June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that the Earth passed another alarming milestone on 23 May when carbon dioxide surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) at the South Pole for the first time in 4 million years.

According to NOAA, the South Pole has shown a steady upward trend in carbon dioxide, though it is the last to register the impacts of increasing emissions from fossil fuel consumption which is proven to be the driver of greenhouse gas pollution.

“The far southern hemisphere was the last place on earth where CO2 had not yet reached this mark," said Pieter Tans, the lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network in a press release. “Global CO2 levels will not return to values below 400 ppm in our lifetimes, and almost certainly for much longer," added Tans.

The agency further noted that every year since observations began in 1958, there has been more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than the year before. While last year was the fourth consecutive year that carbon dioxide grew more than 2 ppm, 2016 is expected to be the fifth.

Soaring temperature: Global temperature records were broken yet again in May 2016, making it the hottest May on record, according to Nasa, and the NOAA. The agencies further added that this was the hottest northern hemisphere spring on record.

NOAA said the combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces in May was 0.87°C above the 20th century average of 14.8°C, beating the previous record set in 2015 by 0.02°C . May 2016 marks the 13th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken—the longest such streak since global temperature records began in 1880.

“The state of the climate so far this year gives us much cause for alarm," said David Carlson, director of the World Climate Research Programme. “Exceptionally high temperatures. Ice melt rates in March and May that we don’t normally see until July. Once-in-a-generation rainfall events. The super El Niño is only partly to blame. Abnormal is the new normal."

Melting Greenland ice sheet: This year, the Greenland ice sheet melted much earlier than usual and broke records of previous melting by a month. Based on observation-initialized weather model runs by Danish Meteorological Institute, almost 12% of the Greenland ice sheet had more than 1mm of melt on 11 April, following an early start to melting. “We had to check that our models were still working properly," said Peter Langen, a climate scientist at DMI on the Polar Portal website, which provides research by Danish research institutes on the Arctic.

Previously, the top three earliest dates for a melt area larger than 10% were all in May—5 May 2010, 8 May 1990 and 8 May 2006.

Another study on 9 June showed that there was a dangerous trend coming about in the Arctic. The study published in Nature Communications and conducted by researchers from the University of Sheffield and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and other institutes showed that record-high temperatures and melting records that affected northwest Greenland in summer 2015 have been linked to the anticipated effects of a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification. This refers to the phenomenon of faster warming of the Arctic compared to the rest of the Northern Hemisphere as sea ice disappears.

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