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NOAA's 2021 State of the Climate report shows concerning environmental trends

Any flooding that results from a rise in sea level could affect coastal areas like Eastern Virginia.

NORFOLK, Va. — A coalition of hundreds of scientists from 60 countries just released the 2021 State of the Climate report, and its findings bring up several pressing environmental concerns.

Among other findings, the report says greenhouse gas concentrations, global sea levels, and ocean heat levels all hit record highs last year.

The report, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, said not only was the amount of greenhouse gas a problem, but the rate of its increase was, too. 

The amount of methane has never increased in a year as much as it did between 2020 and 2021: 18 parts per billion.

Global temperatures were also about 0.38-0.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 1991-2020 average. That continues a trend; the last seven years have been the hottest years in meteorological record, the report says. 

The oceans hitting new temperature records is significant because Earth's seas hold most of the planet's excess energy. When the oceans heat up, the polar ice caps melt, and sea levels rise.

Any flooding that results from a rise in sea level could affect coastal areas like Eastern Virginia.

"The data presented in this report are clear — we continue to see more compelling scientific evidence that climate change has global impacts and shows no sign of slowing,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “With many communities hit with 1,000-year floods, exceptional drought and historic heat this year, it shows that the climate crisis is not a future threat but something we must address today as we work to build a Climate-Ready Nation — and world — that is resilient to climate-driven extremes.”

"This is a huge national security concern," said Dr. Jessica Whitehead, who is the Joan P. Brock Endowed Executive Director of the Institute for Coastal Adaptation & Resilience at Old Dominion University.

Whitehead said the report is concerning, but, not unexpected.

"It's an alarming report, but for those of us that have been working in the climate science field and particularly the climate science impact field, it's a lot more of the same," she said. "We've been seeing this over and over and over. I certainly hope that people are getting the message. And I think here in Virginia, they are."

You can read NOAA's summary here or dig into the full report here.

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