World temperatures hit a record high for the third year in a row in 2016, creeping closer to a ceiling set for global warming with extremes including unprecedented heat in India and ice melt in the Arctic, U.S. government agencies said on Wednesday. The data, supported by findings from other organizations, was issued two days before the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who questions whether climate change has a human cause. Average surface temperatures over land and the oceans in 2016 were 0.94 degrees Celsius (1.69 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th-century average of 13.9C (57.0F), according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). U.S. space agency NASA reported almost identical data, and the UK Met Office and University of East Anglia, which also track global temperatures for the United Nations, said 2016 was the hottest year on record. Temperatures, lifted both by man-made greenhouse gases and a natural El Nino event that released heat from the Pacific Ocean last year, beat the previous record in 2015, when 200 nations agreed a plan to limit global warming. That peak had in turn eclipsed 2014. "We don't expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear," said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
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