A new report submitted by 450 climate scientists from around the world details how environmental conditions in 2015 managed to set some of the highest global heat, greenhouse gas and sea levels ever to be recorded in history.
Known as the State of the Climate (SOTC) report, the 300-page document was organized by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It is described as the "annual physical" of the planet's condition.
While the El Niño phenomenon ended in July, its recent effect on the planet is considered to be the worst in more than six decades.
Thomas Karl, director of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), said the 2015 report not only indicates that Earth's temperature is increasing, but it also shows that all factors typically associated with such a rise in temperature are also happening.
He said that as far as global temperatures are concerned, the recent El Niño phenomenon only added to the worsening of the situation.
The SOTC shows that various climate factors significantly increased in 2015, including the amount of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere, global temperatures and sea levels around the world.
Last year was particularly devastating in terms of greenhouse gas concentrations. Datasets featured in the report indicate that fossil fuel burning by-products, such as methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide (CO2), reached record-setting levels in 2015.
Mauna Loa, Hawaii, for example, recorded an average atmospheric CO2 level of 400.8 parts per million (ppm) for the year. This was the first time CO2 concentrations in the area reached beyond 400 ppm, making the largest yearly increase ever to be detected in 58 years.
The average CO2 level for the entire planet in 2015 reached 399.4 ppm, which is a 2.2 ppm jump from records set in 2014.
Jessica Blunden, a climatologist and lead editor at the NCEI, pointed out that it is likely that 2016 could easily surpass last year's milestone global CO2 average.
The findings of the SOTC report also confirmed that the average temperatures for Earth's land and oceans reached record highs in 2015.
The NOAA said climate experts anticipate that the global heat for 2016 will likely set a new record high.
Despite the end of El Nino, Blunden said that it doesn't mean that climate conditions will return to the state they were before. Global temperatures will continue to increase instead.
Scientists observed a significant increase in sea levels around the world in 2015. In fact, the average levels were approximately 70 millimeters, or 2.75 inches, higher than those recorded in 1993.
The report said that sea levels around the world are continuing to increase by an average of 3.3 millimeters (0.13 inch) every year. The rise in sea levels appears to be faster in some areas in the Indian Ocean and in the western portion of the Pacific than in any other region of the world.
Experts warn that even though the pace of increase may seem slow now, it is possible that it will pick up speed in the next few decades with the melting of glaciers and ice caps in the planet's poles. This could put the lives of millions of people living in coastal areas at great risk.
Last year also saw the occurrence of more extreme weather patterns, which caused severe flooding in different parts of the world.
In some regions, countries experienced a near doubling of drought occurrence. From the 8 percent recorded in 2014, it reached a rate of 14 percent in 2015.