The annual State of the Climate (SoC) report published by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on 2 August 2016, has confirmed that 2015 surpassed 2014 as the warmest year on record since at least the mid-to-late 19th century.
Last year’s record heat resulted from a combination of long-term global warming and one of the strongest El Niño experienced since at least 1950.
Notable findings from the report include:
- Greenhouse gases were the highest on record. Major greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide, rose to new record high values during 2015.
- Global surface temperature was the highest on record. Aided by the strong El Niño, the 2015 annual global surface temperature was 0.42°–0.46°C above the 1981–2010 average, surpassing the previous record set in 2014.
- Sea surface temperature was the highest on record. The globally averaged sea surface temperature was 0.33°–0.39°C above average, breaking the previous mark set in 2014.
- Global upper ocean heat content highest on record. Upper ocean heat content exceeded the record set in 2014, reflecting the continuing accumulation of heat in the ocean’s top layers.
- Global sea level rose to a new record high in 2015. It measured about 70 mm higher than that observed in 1993, when satellite record-keeping for global sea level rise began.
- Tropical cyclones were well above average, overall. There were 101 tropical cyclones total across all ocean basins in 2015, well above the 1981-2010 average of 82 storms.
- The Arctic continued to warm; sea ice extent remained low. The Arctic land surface temperature in 2015 was 1.2°C above the 1981-2010 average, tying 2007 and 2011 as the highest on record. The maximum Arctic sea ice extent reached in February 2015 was the smallest in the 37-year satellite record, while the minimum sea ice extent that September was the fourth lowest on record.
“… this year’s SoC has an emphasis on ecosystems; several chapters have dedicated a sidebar to the complex relationship between a changing climate and its impact on living systems. This notion of connectedness—between climate, landscape, and life; between our daily work and the expression of its meaning; between planetary-scale drivers and humble living things; between the abstraction and rigor of data and the reality and complexity of their importance; and especially between one generation and the next—inspires and informs much of the work within this volume.”
Download the full report here
Blunden, J., and D. S. Arndt, Eds., 2016: State of the Climate in 2015. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 97 (8), S1-S275.