Yesterday, meteorologists in the UK and the US confirmed that 2015 was the warmest year globally ever recorded.
Data collected by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed that the global average temperature was 0.13C warmer than 2014, which had previously held the record as the world's warmest year. Meanwhile the UK's Met Office confirmed that 2015 was 0.75C warmer than the long-term average from 1961 to 1990.
The warming is due to a combination of factors, including the ongoing El Niño event and human-induced climate change. According to NASA, much of the warming has happened within the last 35 years. Fifteen of the sixteen wamest years on record have occurred since 2001, which shows how greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are having a real impact on our planet's warming.
Drought has affected parts of Africa, India and Pakistan during 2015, while flooding affected parts of the US and Europe later in the year. Very warm temperatures were recorded in Siberia and Northern Russia. 2016 is already being predicted to be as warm, or possibly even warmer than 2015, partly because ocean temperatures are so high around the world.
The world's leaders pledged at December 2015's climate conference in Paris to prevent the planet's temperature from increasing more than 2C above pre-Industrial levels (the average global temperatures for 1850 to 1900). In 2015, warming reached 1C above pre-Industrial levels for the first time. It's clear that the time we have left to prevent warming from reaching above 2C over pre-Industrial levels is ticking away.
Photo by Asian Development Bank.