Earth has just experienced the hottest year since records began, according to a report by the United Nations. Greenhouse gases are behind the trend, most scientists believe.
Researchers have also taken into account factors such as a powerful “El Nino” – that’s the band of warm ocean water and wind which can spark an increase in temperatures across the world.
“2015 would have been the warmest year on record without El Nino. But the occurrence of El Nino at the same time, starting in late 2015 pushed the global temperatures even slightly higher than they would have been,” explained Compton Tucker, NASA scientist.
The UN World Meteorological Organization report confirms findings by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showing that for the first time, on record, temperatures in 2015 were about one degree Celsius above the pre-industrial era.
“We have just had the hottest year by a big margin, we have had the hottest five years and we have had the hottest 10 years. There is no pause in global warming,” pointed out Clare Nullis, Spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization.
A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapour and causes an intensification of rainstorms and it is also at the origin of other powerful weather events.
“In general terms we can say that as a result of climate change, we do expect extreme events like heat waves, heavy rainfalls to increase. We really need to keep those temperature increases below an absolute maximum of two degrees Celsius to stand a good chance of being able to survive as we are today,” added Clare Nullis.
At the Paris summit in December 195 nations signed an accord to limit the increase in temperature to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. UN experts say the limit is a significant defence line against the impact of climate change.