2015 was warmest year on record; El Niño, climate change to blame

Environment News / January 18, 2016 /

Planet Earth’s hot streak continues.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s most recent State of the Climate report confirmed what many climatologists have been predicting for most of the past year. The year 2015 was the warmest since records on that statistic have been kept starting in 1880.

The average temperature last year was 1.62 degreesFahrenheit above the 20th-century average of 57 degrees. That temperature topped the record set in 2014 by 0.29 degrees. Last year not only was the warmest calendar year, it also was the warmest 12-month period on record.

The reason behind the 2015 heat wave might be familiar to Phoenix-area residents, explained Arizona State University professor Randy Cerveny. A climatologist, Cerveny serves as a rapporteur on climate extremes for the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization.

“The primary reason is El Niño,” Cerveny said. “This El Niño is unprecedented in the last 50 years. The fact we are seeing such a warming globally is primarily attributable to the massive warming we are having in the Pacific Ocean.”

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