By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
The weather in 2016 may have been hot, but it wasn’t record breaking.
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the average temperature for 2016 in Oshawa was 9.6 C, well above the long-term average temperature of 8.1 C.
“That’s a pretty significant difference for a yearly average temperature, and in fact was the warmest year in the Oshawa area since the record setting year of 2012,” Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, tells The Oshawa Express.
The average temperature in 2012, the hottest seen in Oshawa, was 9.9 C.
According to Coulson, 10 out 12 months in 2016 – April and December being the exception – saw temperatures come in higher than long-term averages.
As for why temperatures came in warmer than normal, Coulson says a number of factors were at play, including a strong El Nino event – warm waters off the coast of South America that can cause warmer than normal temperatures in North America – at the start of 2016.
“As that El Nino weakened, April came in notably cooler than normal. And then it was a bit of a building trend after that. May and June were somewhat warmer than normal, then July, August, September, even October and November were all notably warmer than normal, but there’s really no one single driving force behind that overall trend,” Coulson says.
The only month in 2016 that ended up being a record breaker was in August, when the average temperature was 23 C, beating out a record of 22.1 C set in 1973.
Coulson says that, looking ahead to this year, temperatures for February and March appear to be returning closer to average levels.
Worldwide, however, it was a bit of a different story, with a report issued by the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) finding that 2016 was the hottest year on record, with a global average temperature for the year of 0.99 C. This marks the third straight year that this annual report from NASA and NOAA has found that the previous year was the hottest ever.
“2016 is remarkably the third record year in a row in this series,” states Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in a news release announcing the findings.
“We don’t expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear.”
The study by NASA and NOAA states that global temperatures have risen by about 2 C since the late 19th century, with most of the warming occurring in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 hottest years on record taking place since 2001.
While the report notes El Nino effects causing short-term changes to weather patterns, the long-term change is caused by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions in the atmosphere.