According to scientists at two American government agencies — NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — 2015 was the warmest year ever for global land and ocean surfaces, dating all the way to 1880.
Not only American scientists are reporting that last year was the warmest on record, British scientists reported that it was the warmest year since 1850, and Japanese scientists reported that it was the warmest year since 1891.
The previous record for global surface temperatures had been set in 2014 and 2015 handily beat that record with an unusually warm Pacific Ocean due to an El Nino.
Dr. Michael Mann explained that if the global climate were not warming, the odds of setting two back-to-back record years would be about one chance in every 1,500 pairs of years.
If atmospheric temperatures continue to follow the same sky-rocketing trend that methane and carbon dioxide have during the last century, we could very well be approaching the eve of extinction.
“The whole system is warming up, relentlessly,” said Gerald A. Meehl, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.
“Is there any evidence for a pause in the long-term global warming rate?” said Gavin A. Schmidt, head of NASA’s climate-science unit, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in Manhattan. “The answer is no. That was true before last year, but it’s much more obvious now.”
Politicians attempting to claim that greenhouse gases are not a problem, particularly on the Republican presidential campaign trail, flat out contradict the assessments coming from the best minds in science who focus on facts associated with climate.
A warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor, and an intensification of rainstorms was one of the fundamental predictions made by climate scientists decades ago as a consequence of human emissions. That prediction has come to pass, with the rains growing more intense across every region of the United States, but especially so in the East.
The intense warmth of 2015 contributed to a heat wave in India last spring that turns out to have been the second-worst in that country’s history, killing an estimated 2,500 people. The long-term global warming trend has exacted a severe toll from extreme heat, with eight of the world’s 10 deadliest heat waves occurring since 1997.
Only rough estimates of heat deaths are available, but according to figures from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, in Brussels, the toll over the past two decades is approaching 140,000 people, with most of those deaths occurring during a European heat wave in 2003 and a Russian heat wave in 2010.
The strong El Niño has continued into 2016, raising the possibility that this year will, yet again, set a global temperature record. The El Niño pattern is also disturbing the circulation of the atmosphere, contributing to worldwide weather extremes that include a drought in southern Africa, threatening the food supply of millions.
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