NASA has released a new report that describes 2015 as the warmest Earth has ever been since 1880, confirming the World Meteorological Organization's announcement last November.
The American space agency says the average temperatures of the world recorded in 2015 were 0.13 Celsius (0.23 degrees Fahrenheit) higher compared to those set in 2014. This is the first time scientists have detected such a large increase in recorded temperatures since 1998.
Researchers from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) highlight in their report that the 2015 temperatures indicate a trend of long-term warming for Earth.
Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration support the GISS's findings, adding that 2015 was indeed the hottest year the planet has experienced based on their own independent research.
NASA chief Charles Bolden stated that climate change is a challenge that this generation has to face. It is NASA's job to find out how this phenomenon impacts the lives of each person on the planet.
"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," Bolden says.
Warming Of The Earth
Recent data has shown that the average surface temperature of the Earth has increased by as much as 1.0 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the 19th century. This was caused by a significant increase in the amount of carbon dioxide and other man-made emissions present in the atmosphere at the time.
Scientists have discovered that much of the planet's warming happened in just the last three and a half decades. Of the 16 hottest years on record, 15 occurred after 2001.
2015 marked the first instance when the average temperatures of the world reached one degree Celsius or higher compared to the average set between 1880 and 1899.
Several environmental events, such as El Niño and La Niña in the Pacific, may have contributed to the short-term changes in global average temperatures. Some countries experienced the warming effects of an El Niño for the greater part of 2015.
Gavin Schmidt, director of the GISS, points out that 2015's average temperatures were significant even in the context of the El Niño.
While the El Niño may have contributed to an increase in temperatures last year, Schmidt said the record warming they have detected is the snowballing effect of a lasting trend.
Regional temperatures are often affected by weather dynamics, which is why not every part of the world experienced high average temperatures in 2015. NASA researchers have discovered that the yearly mean temperature detected in the 48 adjoining U.S. states last year was the second hottest ever to be recorded.
NASA made use of surface temperature data collected from 6,300 different weather stations, buoy- and ship-based readings of sea surface temperatures and measurements of temperatures from research stations in the Antarctic.
Measurements were then analyzed using a unique algorithm that accounts for the various spacing of global temperature stations as well as the effects of urban heating that could affect the results if not considered.
The outcome is an approximation of the difference of global average temperatures between 1951 and 1980.