This map shows how 2015 temperatures compare with long-term averages. Blue areas were cooler than their long-term averages; red areas were warmer.
2015 Was the Hottest Year Ever
Things are definitely heating up. Spurred by global warming and a “super El Niño,” 2015 smashed records, becoming by far Earth’s hottest year since record-keeping began in 1880.
Worldwide surface temperatures were on average 0.90 degrees Celsius warmer than the 20th century average of 13.9°, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA reported January 20 in a joint announcement. That’s well above the previous record of 0.74 degrees above average set in 2014 (SN Online: 1/16/15). The 0.16-degree difference between the two years is the largest margin by which an annual temperature record has ever been broken.
Certain people have claimed for a decade that “global warming,” if it was ever real, has stopped. In this post, I’ve accumulated a few facts that should put an end to that myth.
Climate change doubters like to point out that climate is complex and it comes in cycles, but they don’t like to recognize El Nino and La Nina as part of that complexity. 1998 was an El Nino year, so it broke temperature records by even more than would otherwise have been expected. When the next few years weren’t quite as hot, the doubters smugly and prematurely pronounced victory over those of us who accept climate change as a fact. (Don’t misunderstand. I wish they were right. I wish climate change was a hoax. It just isn’t so.)
Another time, we’ll discuss some of these complexities, but right now I want to demolish this myth that climate change is not real.
The following chart from the White House shows it graphically. Not only was 2015 the hottest year on record, but the trend has been steadily up for at least 50 years.
The White House report continues that the globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 were 2.39°F above the 20th century average and broke the previous annual record (2007) by an incredible 0.45°F.
According to the NOAA, during 2015, the globally-averaged land surface temperature was 2.39°F (1.33°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all years in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record of 2007 by 0.45°F (0.25°C). This is the largest margin by which the annual global land temperature has been broken.
2015 was Planet Earth’s warmest year since modern record-keeping began in 1880, according to a new analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Credit: daulon/Shutterstock.com (sunset image); NASA/JPL (data and overlay).
Not only are temperatures climbing, but they’re climbing faster than usual the past couple of years. While 0.45°F in eight years doesn’t sound like much, it is. Think of the cumulative effect. It’s almost five Fahrenheit degrees between now and the end of the century. That’s enough to melt glaciers, change weather patterns, and raise sea levels. We’ll talk more about it in future posts.
(World Meteorological Organization director-general Michel) Jarraud rejected climate sceptics’ arguments that the science underlying predictions of man-made climate change was flawed.
“It’s not about believing or not,” he said. “It’s a matter of seeing the facts. The facts are there.”
Paul Williams, climate scientist at the University of Reading, agreed: “All the thermometer readings, satellite observations, tree rings, ice cores and sea-level records would have to be wrong.”
Eight of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2005, and the years 2011-2015 have been the hottest five-year period on record.
“Climate change is the challenge of our generation, and NASA’s vital work on this important issue affects every person on Earth,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
The facts are in; climate change is real.