No thanks to El Nino and human-induced global warming, 2015 will likely break the all-time annual heat record, according to the United Nations weather agency, but this is not the only bad news that the year has in store when it comes to extreme weather and climate change.
The World Meteorological Organization announced on Wednesday, Nov. 25, that 2015 will surpass last year’s record heat and will be the hottest year in history, with no sign of letting up to not make that dreaded performance.
“This is all bad news for the planet,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the agency, in an official statement. The declaration is made a week prior to COP21, the 12-day Paris climate change conference where world leaders from 195 nations will attempt to negotiate an agreement on fighting climate change.
Jarraud added that Earth has probably warned by 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) over the pre-industrial period – a symbolic milestone given that world leaders have set the goal of keeping global warming within 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit of pre-industrial era.
Experts from weather agencies worldwide, including the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Japan’s weather bureau, had made the same forecast. All predicted that 2015 will outperform 2014, the current record hot year with a global 14.57 degrees C or 58.23 Fahrenheit temperature. Records trace back to 1880.
The WMO report is an atlas of data on extreme weather. Here are some 2015 highlights:
- El Nino – The full effects are projected to continue after the peaks of this natural phenomenon, which started in the North Pacific summer last year and spread to the South Pacific and Indian Ocean this year. As expected impacts, large Central American and Caribbean areas recorded below-average rainfall, while Indonesia’s own low rain levels likely fueled the wildfires.
- Rises in ocean heat and sea levels – Oceans have been getting over 90 percent of energy accumulating from greenhouse gas emissions, leading to higher temperatures and sea levels. Latest global sea level average in early 2015 emerged as the highest since 1993, when satellite views became available.
- Regional temperatures – Land areas like western North America, South America, Africa, and southern and eastern Eurasia logged substantially warmer-than-average temperatures. Record cold was also experienced in eastern areas of North America as well as Argentina in October.
- Heat waves – India suffered from a major heat wave in May and June, with the same extreme events hitting Europe, Middle East, and northern Africa.
- Rainfall and drought – High rainfall was recorded in places such as Mexico, southern Brazil, Bolivia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, while long-term drought persisted in areas such as western North America, which “favored the development of wildfires.” In May alone, more than 400 fires in Alaska – another record-breaker – burned 728,000 hectares.
The report covers 2015 and the last five years and will be released in full after the Paris climate talks.
Photo: Steve Jurvetson | Flickr