The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, The Japanese Meteorological Agency and the U.K. Meteorological Office all indicate that 2016 was the hottest year on record, globally. Calculations showed that the average temperature of 2016 was 1.69 to 1.82 degrees Fahrenheit over the 20th century average. Looking at the data from the agencies, the average global temperature was 2.18 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1881-1910 average.
Sea surface temperatures are a large component of the total global temperature, as most of the earth is made of water. El Niño was in place at the beginning of the year and that gave temperatures a small boost.
Scientists noted that the major cause of last year’s record heat and upward trend in temperatures was an increase in atmosphere greenhouse gases and burning fossil fuels. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached record levels. For eastern North Carolina in particular, La Niña may continue the warmth in the 2017 winter with warmer than average temperatures, see our winter weather outlook here http://wnct.com/blog/2016/12/21/noaa-releases-winter-season-temperature-and-precipitation-outlook/.
graphics courtesy of Climate Matters