2015 scorches records as Earth's warmest year ever

Dec 20 2017, 3:43 am

Bad news from the world climate monitoring organization this morning; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that 2015 was the Earth’s hottest year on record.

Record keeping began 135 years ago in 1880 and never since then has the Earth been as hot as it was last year. Temperatures over land and ocean surfaces was 0.90°C over the 20th Century average in 2015 and surpassed the record set in 2014 by 0.29°C. This is also the fourth time a global temperature record has been set in the 21st Century.

The largest increase in temperature was seen over land surfaces with 1.33°C over average and also surpassed the previous record set in 2007 by a quarter of a degree. Sea surface temperatures, while also record-breaking, did not mark as drastic as a change; they totaled 0.74°C over the 20th Century average.

Due to rising temperatures, the Northern Hemisphere’s snow coverage also hit record lows. The snow cover extent in 2015 was 9.5 million square miles, marking the 11th smallest snow cover since records began in 1968, and the smallest since 2008. Polar sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere also shrank once again to only 4.25 million square miles, the sixth smallest extent in 37 years.

Image: NOAA

Image: NOAA

Regional Analysis

Significant climate anomalies in 2015 were widespread and touched every continent on Earth. Some of the largest indicators of climate disruption, as listed by NOAA:


Parts of Western Canada had their warmest summer on record, including moderate to extreme drought conditions.

United States

Alaska experienced their second warmest year since state records began in 1925. The year 2014 has been the hottest so far. The rest of the United States, excluding Hawaii, had the second warmest year on records and third wettest year. May 2015 was the wettest month of any month on record.


The country experienced their wettest March since records began in 1941. Off shore, Hurricane Sandra plummeted the region with maximum wind speeds of 230 km/hr and was the largest major hurricane in the Eastern North Pacific basin since records began in 1971.

Eastern North Pacific Basin

Three storms, Kilo, Ignacio, and Jimena marked the first time three major hurricanes occurred simultaneously in the Eastern North Pacific since records began in 1949. The average monthly hurricane activity was 144% of normal.

South America

The continent experienced their warmest year since records began in 1910, particularly affecting Chile which experienced their driest January in at least 50 years.


Europe experienced their second warmest year on record, behind 2014. Spain, Finland, Austria, Germany, France, and The Netherlands also experienced a “top 5” year for heat.


Behind 2010, last year was the second warmest year on record. Significant events included heavy rainfall in Morocco on August 6 when Marrakech received over 13 times its monthly average of rain in only one hour. In South Africa, the period of June 2014 to June 2015 was the driest season since 1992 and third driest on record. Yemen was hit by Cyclone Chapala at the end of October when maximum winds of 250 km/hr were recorded. Chapala was the first hurricane-strength storm to ever make landfall in Yemen.


India’s spring was plagued by a major heatwave between May 21 to June 10 where average temperatures of 45°C were recorded. Over 2,000 people died due to heat during this period.


75 million people were affected by floods and heavy rain between May and October. Across the Asian continent, 2015 was the warmest year on record, particularly for Russia, Hong Kong, and China. The Western Pacific Ocean saw above-average typhoon activity with a total of 28 storms and 21 typhoons.


2015 was the fifth warmest year on record, and October was particularly warm, recording the largest anomaly for any month on record.


DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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