RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) --Our planet is heating up at a record rate.
"Since 2000, the 16 warmest years have been to date. Anytime you see this and have a run like this, this tells you that the climate is not changing due to natural reasons but it's being forced," said Dr. Compton Tucker, a veteran NASA scientist.
Tucker has worked at NASA for 38 years and says these results are concerning.
"The planet is warming, it's warming because of greenhouse gases and we need to address our use of fossil fuels," he said.
NASA scientists are now in research mode: flying over melting Arctic sea ice and measuring temperatures on the icy ground. The goal is to learn more about the process of a warming planet and the impacts we will see.
"If you have warmer conditions in the summer you can have drier periods that lead to droughts that is bad for agriculture," Tucker said. "If you have very warm conditions it leads to more forest fires, because they dry out the forests and they burn more easily."
Tucker explained the changes to the Arctic are important clues to our climate too.
"What we see happen in the arctic is a harbinger of what will be moving south, which we will be experiencing this summer," he said.
And now, the latest research shows 2016 may be the hottest year yet.
"The first six months of 2016 are the warmest 6 months on record from January to June going all the way back to 1880," Tucker said.
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