ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported 2015 as Earth’s warmest year on record by a wide margin. The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2015 was the highest among all years since record keeping began in 1880, according to the report. During the final month, the December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the highest on record for any month in the 136-year record.
During 2015, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all 136 years in the 1880-2015 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.29°F (0.16°C) and marking the fourth time a global temperature record has been set this century. This is also the largest margin by which the annual global temperature record has been broken. Ten months had record high temperatures for their respective months during the year. The five highest monthly departures from average for any month on record all occurred during 2015.
Additionally, the globally averaged land surface temperature was 2.39°F (1.33°C) above the 20th century average in 2015. This was the highest among all years in the 1880-2015 record, surpassing the previous record of 2007 by 0.45°F (0.25°C). This is the largest margin by which the annual global land temperature has been broken.
According to data from NOAA analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the average annual Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during 2015 was 9.5 million square miles. This was the 11th smallest annual snow cover extent since such numbers began being recorded in 1968 and smallest since 2008. The first half of 2015 saw generally below-normal snow cover extent with above-average coverage later in the year.
Recent polar sea ice extent trends continued in 2015. The average annual sea ice extent in the Arctic was 4.25 million square miles, the sixth smallest annual value of the 37-year period of record. The annual Antarctic sea ice extent was the third largest on record, at 4.92 million square miles, behind 2013 and 2014.
To view the full annual State of the Climate report, visit http://1.usa.gov/1KKjCgB.
Publication date: 2/29/2016