An independent analysis by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed that Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880.
The record breaking year continues an alarming long term trend – since 2001, 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred.
“Climate change is the challenge of our generation, and NASA’s vital work on this important issue affects every person on Earth,” said NASA Scientist Charles Bolden. “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.”
Global average temperatures in 2015 beat the previous high of 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a significant jump up. Alarmingly, only once before (in 1998) has the new record been greater than the old record by this much.
The Earth’s global average temperature is now about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit higher than it was in the late 19th century, a transformation largely driven by human-made carbon dioxide emissions. Most of the warming has occurred in the past 35 years, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001.
To come up with accurate global average temperatures, NASA analyzes data from 6,300 weather stations, ship and buoy based observations of sea surface temperatures, and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations. The measurements are then plugged into an algorithm that considers many effects that could skew the results. The NOAA uses similar methods to assemble raw data, but different methods to analyze global temperatures and the planets polar regions.
The result is two separate credible, independent reports that show 2015 was the warmest year on record.
The complete methodology used to make temperature calculations are available at: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/
The slides for the Wednesday, Jan. 20 news conference are available at: http://go.nasa.gov/2015climate