rss
3

2015 shatters hottest year mark; 2016 hot on its heels?

Print Friendly

Climate Central

It’s official: 2015 was the hottest year on record, beating out 2014 by the widest margin in 136 years of record keeping, U.S. government agencies announced Wednesday.

The year’s incredible heat serves as a stark reminder of how much the Earth’s temperature has risen due to the steady buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from human activities like power generation, transportation and clear cutting of forests. That temperature reached the point in 2015 where it was 1°C (1.8°F) above that of the late 19th century at the same time as carbon dioxide levels likely permanently rose above 400 parts per million.

“2015 was remarkable even in the context of the larger, long-term warming trend,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a statement.

Both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that 2015 easily took over the top spot from 2014. By NASA’s measure, 2015 was 0.23°F (0.13°C) warmer than 2014 — the second largest-ever jump from a previous record. By NOAA’s measure it was 1.62°F (0.9°C) above the 20th century average and the largest jump from a previous record, at 0.29°F (0.16°C) above 2014.

“That’s the rather remarkable part of the story, we think, this year,” Thomas Karl, director of  NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, said during a press teleconference.

The two agencies use slightly different methods of assembling the global temperature data, leading to the slightly varying numbers, though both datasets show the clear warming of the planet.

The oceans were one of the clear hot spots on the globe during the year, particularly the Indian Ocean and the tropical Pacific Ocean, which was under the influence of an incredibly strong El Niño. Record warmth was found in parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, South Africa and North America. It was the second hottest year on record for the U.S., helped by an incredibly toasty December in the eastern half of the country.

While El Niño contributed to the record, a Climate Central analysis has shown that 2015’s high temperature was overwhelmingly the result of manmade warming.

“We would not have seen the record warming without the long-term trend,” Schmidt said.

Temperature rankings for each continent for 2015.

Temperature rankings for each continent for 2015.

The end of the year also saw international negotiators in Paris agree to a plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions to keep that temperature from rising beyond 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels to limit the adverse impacts of warming, such as melting glaciers, rising sea levels and potentially more extreme weather.

But this new record may not stand for long, as one of the strongest El Niños ever measured combines with the continued warming of the planet to potentially push 2016 to yet another record.

Pacific Ocean temperatures in the key El Niño region likely peaked in November, but it takes about three to five months for that heat to spread beyond the tropical Pacific and warm the broader atmosphere. The peak global heat from El Niño likely hasn’t happened yet, Anthony Barnston, chief forecaster for Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, said.

That peak is likely to come in the next few months, “so, while 2015 may be the warmest year on record so far, 2016 may well be even warmer,” Barnston said in an email.

The overall background warming of the globe means that even La Niña years now are warmer than El Niño years of previous decades. And the temperature effects of a La Niña later this year wouldn’t be felt until the year was nearly over, Barnston said.

The U.K.’s Met Office predicts that 2016 will be 1.5°F (0.84°C) above the 1961-1990 average, while 2015 was 1.3°F (0.72°C) above this average. (That prediction assumes there are no major volcanic eruptions, which have a cooling influence.)

“This forecast suggests that by the end of 2016 we will have seen three record, or near-record years in a row for global temperatures,” Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office, said in a statement.

Scientists don’t expect every year to be warmer than the last, as natural fluctuations like La Niña can have a cooling influence, but overall manmade warming tips the odds in favor of record hot over record cold. The last globally record cold year was 1911, while 15 of the 16 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001, according to NASA.

Source: Climate Central. Reproduced with permission.

RenewEconomy Free Daily Newsletter

Share this:

  • john

    From what we are hearing from the likes of the GWPF and other such outfits, their take is that thermometers can not measure in points of a degree.
    Now they are making great play on the satellite measurements.
    The working out of a temperature for the troposphere from the radiation using this method has shown to be extremely difficult due to decaying orbits time differences and using computer programs to derive figures not a simple exercise at all.
    This is aimed at the gullible of course.
    At the COP21 along with the film Climate Hassle, was released their so called paper, which claimed that CO2 and H2O are cooling agents !!!!!???
    How these people can sleep straight in bed is beyond me.
    Currently the only area of lower than normal temperature is the ocean north of New York one hopes this is not a precursor to a slowing of the North Atlantic stream.
    Such an occurrence would be devastating for Western Europe and North Eastern USA.
    No doubt stoping NASA and NOAA from doing this work, would be very beneficial to the stifling of information, and is the aim of the expected next President of the USA.
    Just where are we headed is sobering indeed.

    • Geoff

      this is the problem. the republicans are in bed with corporations as corporations are huge donors to their political parties. the koch brothers are estimated to donate $1b to the GOP for this years presidential elections alone. now institutions like the heartland institute which promoted “climate hussle” at COP21 are all connected with the republicans and are all working together for the common goal and that is to favor the carbon industry. now if the republicans get in this year (which I hope they don’t) then you can kiss the US / China relationship around global warming and renewables good bye and you’ll see the keystone XL pipeline get approved and most likely fast tracked. institutions like heartland and the copenhagen consensus run by bjorn lomborg only work with small, unrelated figures skewing it so that the numbers do not add up and some how prove that global warming is not serious, even though 95% of top scientists globally are ringing the bells. Behind the scenes, you will find the same guys that tried to debunk smoking 20 – 30 years ago are still at it and this time trying to debunk climate change. Read “Merchants of Doubt” to get the full story as there are some evil pricks out there in the world all being played by their puppet masters…

      • john

        I have read “Merchants of Doubt” and yes to look at a good exposure of Bjorn Lomborg go to.

        http://www.desmogblog.com/bjorn-Lomborg

        As to the USA presidential race it is quiet possible the GOP will get up.
        In which case a dismal outlook for the western world.
        I just hope that a record is being made that can be read in 2100 and onwards.
        I think the real problem is that 90% of people feel threated every time a science subject is mentioned so react negatively.
        I have spoken to men and women who could explain and they say “No I can not waste my time doing that”
        They just ignore the political aspects as they are too busy doing real work and can not waste their time talking to people who have no basic understanding.