Summer Comes In Hot: 2015 Is on Course to Be Warmest Year to Date
Another month, another record-setting heat wave—that’s the trend the Earth seems to be following as this year’s weather data continues to shatter 135-year-old temperature records worldwide.
Compared with data going back to 1880, the first half of this year has been the warmest ever recorded. On average, temperatures in June were 1.58 degrees warmer than the 20th-century average of 59.9 degrees Fahrenheit.
The surge in heat is partly because of the early stages of an El Niño climate pattern, which is marked by rising ocean temperatures in the Pacific and is expected to strengthen in the coming months, according to NOAA forecasts. As the Earth transitions into a full-blown El Niño event in winter, 2015 is poised to beat out last year’s title for the hottest year on record.
Yet, while El Niño plays a role in this year’s hot streak, it doesn’t tell the whole story. The Earth has been smashing temperature records more consistently—and not just in El Niño years. Nine of the 10 warmest years in recorded history have taken place since 2000.
“The natural variability of climate, including El Niño and La Niña cycles…causes surface temperature to rise and fall from year to year and even decade to decade,” said study author Emily Greenhalgh in a statement alongside NOAA’s newly released State of the Climate in 2014 report. “This ‘short-term’ variability is overwhelmed, however, by what is happening over longer timescales; from the perspective of a century or longer, both land and ocean have warmed.”
Figures from NASA and the Japanese Meteorological Agency support NOAA’s findings.
So, Why Should You Care? The mounting heat is a sign of the hazard greenhouse gases and carbon emissions pose to the Earth, climate scientists warn. If humans don’t cut fossil fuel emissions soon, rising temperatures will be accompanied by more devastating consequences—such as risks to wildlife, rising sea levels, and volatile weather events.