Warmest Year On Record

According to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, 2015 is on track to be the warmest year on record. NOAA’s findings are confirmed by data released by the UK’s Met Office and the Japan Meteorological Agency.

NOAA’s November data show that the first 11 months of 2015 were the warmest such period on record across the world’s land and ocean surfaces, at 0.87°C (1.57°F) above the 20th century average.

The average global temperature across land surfaces was 1.31°C (2.38°F) above the 20th century average. The average global sea surface temperature was the highest for January-November in the 136 years since records have been kept.

In addition to elevating land and ocean temperatures, climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world, threatening fresh water supplies and ecosystems. A new NASA and National Science Foundation study published in Geophysical Research Letters incorporated more than 25 years of satellite temperature data and ground measurements of 235 lakes on 6 continents. The study found that lakes are warming an average of 0.34°C (0.61°F) every ten years. This is greater than the warming rate of either the ocean or the atmosphere, and can produce profound effects. Algae blooms, which can rob water of oxygen and kill fish and plant life, are projected to increase 20% over the next century.

Rivers and streams around the world are also warming, and the flow rates of many major river systems are dropping due to thinner snowpacks in surrounding mountains. This combination of warming fresh water and lower river flow rates is negatively impacting the water supplies of many municipalities and farmland irrigation districts.

Is it possible to slow the rate of global warming to the point where it inflicts no further damage on our environment? It depends on whether the nations that signed the recent Paris agreement will live up to their commitments. The agreement calls for all nations to hold global temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F) by drastically reducing carbon emissions. A starting fund of $100 billion is called for to help nations with emerging economies make the transition. We hope that the nations of the world can come together and make this happen.