GENEVA, Switzerland, January 26, 2016 (ENS) – For the first time on record, global temperatures in 2015 were about 1°Celsius above the pre-industrial era, according to a consolidated analysis from the World Meteorological Organization, WMO.

The global average surface temperature in 2015 broke all previous records by a strikingly wide margin, at 0.76 ± 0.1° Celsius above the 1961-1990 average.

“An exceptionally strong El Niño and global warming caused by greenhouse gases joined forces with dramatic effect on the climate system in 2015,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, who took office at the beginning of January.

Taalas

World Meteorological Organization’s new Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas (Photo courtesy WMO)

Taalas was previously Director-General of the Finnish Meteorological Institute. He succeeds Michel Jarraud, who completed three terms of office on December 31, 2015.

“The power of El Niño will fade in the coming months but the impacts of human-induced climate change will be with us for many decades,” said Taalas.

“We have reached for the first time the threshold of 1°C above pre-industrial temperatures. It is a sobering moment in the history of our planet,” said Taalas.

“If the commitments made during the climate change negotiations in Paris and furthermore a higher emission reduction ambition level is reached, we still have chance to stay within the maximum 2°C limit,” he said.

WMO provides the most authoritative international reference source for global metereological records as the UN agency combines three internationally-renowned observational datasets with those from sophisticated reanalysis systems.

South Africa

South African ranchers worry as high temperatures and drought dry their lands, Nov. 2015. (Photo courtesy Thaba Manzi Ranch)

The WMO global temperature figure is derived from datasets maintained by the Hadley Centre of the UK’s Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom; the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Centers for Environmental Information; and the Goddard Institute of Space Studies operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The WMO also draws on information from reanalysis systems, which use a weather forecasting system to combine many sources of data to provide a more complete picture of global temperatures, including in Polar regions.

WMO uses data from the reanalyses produced by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

drought

No irrigation water reached this California plum orchard in 2015 due to severe drought. (Photo by Lance Cheung courtesy USDA)

All these data sets show that 2015 was the warmest year and also that 15 of the 16 hottest years on record have all been this century, with 2015 being “significantly warmer” than the record-level temperatures seen in 2014, the WMO said in a statement Monday announcing the new heat record.

Underlining the long-term trend, 2011-15 is the warmest five-year period on record.

The record temperatures over both land and ocean surfaces in 2015 were accompanied by many extreme weather events such as heatwaves, flooding and severe drought.

“Climate change will have increasingly negative impacts for at least the next five decades. This emphasizes the need to invest in adaptation besides mitigation,” warned Taalas.

“It is important to strengthen the capability of countries to provide better disaster early warnings to minimize human and economic losses,” he said. “Climate change increases the risk of weather related disasters which are an obstacle to sustainable development.”

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