Earth’s fever got worse last year, making 2015 the hottest on record.
The new State of the Climate report, sometimes called earth’s “annual physical,” found climate-related measurements breaking records set one year earlier. Those include measures for land and ocean temperatures, sea levels, and greenhouse gases, according to the August 2 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“I think the time to call the doctor was years ago,” NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt, co-editor of the report, told the Associated Press. “We are awash in multiple symptoms.”
Scientists from 62 countries contributed to the report, which examined 50 aspects of climate, including dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice and glaciers worldwide. A dozen nations set hottest-year records, including Russia and China. South Africa had the hottest temperature ever recorded in the month of October: 48.4 degrees Celsius.
Scientists: Global sea surface temp record high in 2015. #StateOfClimate https://t.co/QnSNn9nxXy@NOAANCEIclimate pic.twitter.com/cT4Isa9fs3
— NOAA (@NOAA) August 2, 2016
Even though it was a relatively quiet hurricane year in the Atlantic, there were 36 major tropical cyclones worldwide. That’s 15 more than average, said NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden.
At the heart of the records is the fact that all three major heat-trapping greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — hit record highs in 2015, Blunden said.
Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb, who wasn’t part of the report, called it “exhaustive and thorough.”
It’s more than just numbers on a graph. Scientists said the turbo-charged climate affected walrus and penguin populations, played a role in dangerous algae blooms, and set off brutal heat waves all over the world, with ones in India and Pakistan killing thousands of people. One-third of Earth’s land mass had some kind of drought last year.
About 93 percent of the heat energy trapped by greenhouse gases — such as carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas — goes directly into the ocean, the report said. And ocean heat content hit record levels both near the surface and deeper.
“This impacts people. This is real life,” Blunden said.
NOAA oceanographer Gregory C. Johnson summed up Earth’s climate in a haiku published in the report:
“El Niño waxes,
warm waters shoal, flow eastward,
Earth’s fever rises.”