Government scientists say average surface temperatures on Earth were higher last year than any time since modern record keeping began in 1880. Average temperatures in 2015 were 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit and 0.13 Celsius higher than the previous record set in 2014. That much of an increase has happened only once, in 1998. Scientists from NASA and NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) released the findings today. Both agencies analyzed the available data independently, NASA said.
El Nino, the warming effect caused by warmer Pacific Ocean waters, did cause some of the global surface warming, scientists said. But they said the planet’s average surface temperature is 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the late 19th century, and they attribute that to increased carbon dioxide and other “human-made emissions into the atmosphere.”
“Last year’s temperatures had an assist from El Niño,” Goddard Institute for Space Studies Director Gavin Schmidt said, “but it is the cumulative effect of the long-term trend that has resulted in the record warming that we are seeing.” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said:
Climate change is the challenge of our generation, and NASA’s vital work on this important issue affects every person on Earth. Today’s announcement not only underscores how critical NASA’s Earth observation program is, it is a key data point that should make policy makers stand up and take notice – now is the time to act on climate.
Not every part of the world saw the record temperatures, a fact NASA attributed to “weather dynamics.” For example, the 48 contiguous states saw only the second-warmest temperatures on record in 2015. Nevertheless, I believe that anybody – and that includes lots of “politicians” – who doesn’t believe in climate change will soon have to at least “question” their position. It’s quite clear that those who should know – the scientific community – see climate change as real and a most serious problem.
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