It is official, the global average temperature in 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history and this record is expected to be broken in 2016. Last year’s temperature records beat the record set in 2014. According to Climate Central, the five-year period from 2011-15 has been the hottest such period ever recorded. Almost all of the global average temperature records have been set in recent years. We have seen decades of consistently above average temperatures. According to the World Meteorological Association, 2015 is the 39th consecutive year with an anomalously high annual global temperature and 2016 is destined to be the 40th such year and the hottest on record.
Ocean surface temperatures in 2015 were the highest in recorded history. This is significant because the oceans absorb more than 90 percent of the extra heat being trapped by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. However, if the warming continues they will eventually release some of that heat back to the surface warming the planet further
A super El Niño cycle is locked in a feedback loop with atmospheric greenhouse gases. However, a recent analysis by Climate Central indicates that 95 percent of this warming is due to human activity.
“This will be the warmest year, of the warmest decade, of the warmest multi-decade-long period in at least the past millennium,” Penn State University meteorologist Michael Mann said in an email.
In 2015 the hottest summer on record was followed by the hottest September, October and November. In 2015 we had eight consecutive months of record monthly global average temperatures and 9 of the 12 months of 2015 are confirmed as the warmest on record.
In November parts of the Arctic and Siberian permafrost were 10.2°C (18°F) warmer than normal in November
Even more troubling is the fact that we are now exceeding 1 degree Celsius above the mean global average temperature. September, October, and November temperatures showed the greatest departure from average for any month in the 1630 months of record keeping. The trend of growing average departures suggests accelerated warming.
“Little doubt about it, the planet is warming at an unprecedented rate,” said University of Arizona climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck. “Temperatures in upcoming decades are forecast to blow past anything seen in the past 11,000 years, if greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed.”
According to Climate Central the Fall of 2015 this was his was the hottest Autumn on record in the lower 48 US states. The start of the winter saw record breaking heat in much of the central and north eastern portions of North America. Many cities set records in December. According to weather.com, there were more than 2,000 record daily highs and more than 2,000 record-warm daily lows were tied or broken during the final nine days of 2015, beginning Dec. 23. More than 200 record-warm lows for any December day were also tied or broken. A total of 850 sites recorded their warmest Decembers ever.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) if we continue with business as usual we are on track to see a 6°C (10.8°F) increase in the global average temperatures. All of this data corroborates what we already know. We now have more than 400 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere, if we are to stave off the worst impacts of global warming we must eradicate atmospheric greenhouse gases as soon as possible.
As we saw in the Indian heat wave that killed more than 2,500 people last year, heat can be deadly. This tragedy offers a glimpse into our future if we fail to act.
While 2015 was a record breaker, the UK Met Office, says that there is a 95 percent likelihood that 2016 will eclipse 2015 as the hottest year on record. The global average temperature in 2016 is expected to be 1.14 C above pre-industrial norms.
Professor Chris Folland, Met Office research fellow said “[the] forecast suggests [that] 2016 is likely to be at least as warm [as 2015], if not warmer.”
If predictions for 2016 hold true that will be three consecutive years of record breaking global average heat.
“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,” Professor Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office, said.
At COP21 195 nations agreed that we should strive to keep temperatures from rising no more than 1.5 C above preindustrial times. With temperatures already exceeding 1 degree C, this will be a challenge to say the least.
Here is a video released at the start of the Paris climate talks reviewing the warming trend and efforts to reign in temperature increases.
GHGs are Warming the Planet and Contributing to Disasters
Global Temperature Data Underscores the Urgency of Climate Action
Hottest June Foreshadows the Hottest Year on Record
Extreme Heat in the Western World Marks the Start of Summer 2015
Heat Records Tell the Story of Climate Change
3 Charts: Record Breaking Heat August – October 2014
How Much Heat is Required to Spur Global Action?
Record Breaking Heat Suggests Accelerated Warming
June’s Record Breaking Heat and the Global Warming Trend
James Hansen’s 2012 Research Linking Global Warming and Extreme Weather
In the US 2012 is The Hottest Most Extreme Year in Recorded History
Globally 2012 is One of the Hottest Years on Record