Thursday 8 December 2016

2015 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth

NASA urges politicians to take action on climate change

Published 21/01/2016 | 02:30

This illustration obtained from NASA yesterday shows that 2015 was the warmest year since modern record-keeping began in 1880. Photo: AFP/Nasa/Getty
This illustration obtained from NASA yesterday shows that 2015 was the warmest year since modern record-keeping began in 1880. Photo: AFP/Nasa/Getty

Last year was the hottest on record, as the Earth continues to warm due to the effects of climate change.

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It was the warmest year since records began in 1880, new research from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows.

It says that the planet's average surface temperature has risen by almost 1C since the late 19th Century, "a change largely driven by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere".

The record-breaking year continues a long-term warming trend, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001.

The analysis also shows that the 2015 temperatures shattered the previous record set in 2014 by 0.13C.

The analysis comes less than a month after world leaders agreed measures to cut emissions and reduce average temperature increases to well below 2C at the historic UN Climate Summit in Paris.

The findings come after widespread flooding hit large parts of this country from early December, as an entire winter's rain fell in just one month.

Scientists fear that Ireland will be hit with more extreme weather events, including increased rainfall and more storms, as climate change takes hold. Droughts will also impact during summers.

The data suggests that the world is now on a trajectory of rapid warming and that pledges to reduce emissions in Paris will not be enough to prevent irreversible climate change.

The analysis is based on measurements from 6,300 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures and measurements from the Antarctic.

"Climate change is the challenge of our generation," said NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

"Today's announcement not only underscores how critical NASA's Earth observation programme is; it is a key data point that should make policy makers stand up and take notice - now is the time to act."

The increase was partly driven by El Niño, a weather cycle which warms or cools the tropical Pacific Ocean. While a warming El Niño was in effect for most of the year, 2015 is still considered "remarkable".

Not every region on Earth experienced record average temperatures last year. Asia and South America had their warmest years and Africa and Europe their second warmest. Spain and Finland broke previous years, while data from Met Éireann shows that in Ireland, temperatures were below average.

Irish Independent

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