US agencies NASA and NOAA independently confirm last year was the warmest on record, as El Nino heightens impact of human-caused climate change
By Megan Darby
Global warming crossed half way to the danger zone in 2015, the UK’s Met Office revealed on Wednesday.
In the hottest year on record, temperatures across the world averaged 1C above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900), according to preliminary data.
That was towards the higher end of its forecast range, with cyclical weather phenomenon El Nino turbo-charging a long-term warming trend.
Phil Jones, professor at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, said: “While there is a strong El Nino-elevated global temperature this year, it is clear that human influence is driving our climate into uncharted territory.”
US-based NASA and NOAA independently declared 2015 the warmest year measured.
NOAA used a different benchmark to the Met Office, pegging temperatures at 0.9C above the 20th century average. Over land, the figure was 1.33C, surpassing the previous 2007 record by 0.25C – the largest margin ever.
Governments agreed in Paris last month to hold warming “well below 2C” by curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Recognising that even small increases would hit some communities with high risk of extreme weather and rising seas, they committed to “pursue efforts” to keep it to 1.5C.
The latest data shows “there is no room for complacency,” said Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute in London.
“This announcement should put pressure on governments to urgently implement their commitments to act against climate change, and to increase the strength of their planned cuts in annual emissions of greenhouse gases.”