Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1 degree Celsius since the late-19th century, NASA has found.
This change has been largely driven by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere, according to NASA.
Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, figures show, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001.
Weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures and NASA has stated that not every region on Earth experienced record average temperatures last year.
For example, NASA and NOAA found that the 2015 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 United States was the second warmest on record.
According to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, climate change is the challenge of our generation and NASA’s work on this important issue affects every person on Earth.
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.
Phenomena such as El Nino or La Nina, which warm or cool the tropical Pacific Ocean, can contribute to short-term variations in global average temperature, NASA has stated.
There was a warming El Nino in effect for most of 2015.
Gavin Schmidt, Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) Director, said that 2015 was remarkable even in the context of the ongoing El Nino.
“Last year’s temperatures had an assist from El Nino, but it is the cumulative effect of the long-term trend that has resulted in the record warming that we are seeing.”
NASA monitors Earth’s vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites, as well as airborne and ground-based observation campaigns.