The quote in the title of this post is from Jerry Meehl, a top and senior climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. His observation, from an article today by the excellent Justin Gillis of the NY Times, could not be topped for its trenchancy. It is all too on the money. What’s the news? 2015 was the hottest year in the instrumental record, dating to 1880.
Did El Niño push us hotter globally? Yes. But it’s still very much part of the trend. Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), said in this release: “Last year’s temperatures had an assist from El Niño, but it is the cumulative effect of the long-term trend that has resulted in the record warming that we are seeing.” (For more on El Niño, see this website from NOAA.)
Was anybody surprised? No. Because ten of 2015’s monthly global temperatures tied or broke existing records. The earth’s temperature jumped a full 1/4 of a degree Fahrenheit from 2014.
This video from NASA, showing Earth’s long-term warming trend from 1880 through 2015, is pretty stark. Note that most of the warming has occurred in the past 35 years, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. (And it’s warmer now than it has been in the past 1,300 years, and possibly longer.)