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Earth sets hottest year record for third straight year

The morning sun over Pasadena, Calif., is reduced to an orange disk by smoke from a wildfire burning north of Los Angeles on Saturday, July 23, 2016. 

AP Photo/John Antczak

WASHINGTON — Government scientists say the Earth sizzled to a third straight heat record last year. Globally, the average temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2016 was the highest since record keeping began in 1880.

They mostly blame man-made global warming with help from a natural El Nino, which has since disappeared.

The figures announced Wednesday come from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which measure global temperatures in slightly different ways. They said last year passed 2015 as the hottest year on record.

NOAA calculated that the average global temperature last year was 58.69 degrees (14.84 degrees Celsius) - beating the previous year by .07 degrees (.04 Celsius).

Temperatures were particularly high in the first half of the year due to the power of El Niño.

Sixteen of the 17 hottest years ever on record have officially occurred in the 21st century, according to the WMO. The only outlier was 1998.

NASA’s figures include more of the Arctic, which was warmer than usual. The agency said last year was .22 degrees (.12 degrees Celsius) warmer than 2015. 

Looking forward, continued melting of polar ice in the Arctic could lead to catastrophic sea level rise and flooding around the world. Some 13 million Americans could become “climate refugees” by the end of this century if the worst projections come to pass, research in 2016 warned.

NASA’s Gavin Schmidt said most of the record heat was from man-made climate change.