Last year was Earth’s hottest year on record, according to new data released Wednesday.
For the past 12 months the average surface temperature across the globe was 58.47 Fahrenheit, a 0.23-degree increase from 2014’s record-breaking average temperature of 58.24, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA reported.
That is 1.24 degrees above the 20th-century average of 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Earth’s temperature has grown 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century.
Although that temperature increase may seem small, it is still significant, experts said.
“2015 was remarkable even in the context of the ongoing El Nino,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York in a statement. “Last year’s temperature had an assist from El Nino, but it is the cumulative effect of the long-term trend that has resulted in the record warming that we are seeing.”
The new numbers confirm long-term warming trends predicted by scientists, and were almost certainly caused in part by human activities, researchers said.
The first detailed global temperature measurements were recorded in 1880. Since then, nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2002, according to NOAA. (The other top 10 hottest year, 1998, ranks fifth in the record books, in part because of a particularly strong El Nino phase.)
The Japan Meteorological Agency has published similar, preliminary findings on its website, based on data collected from January through November of 2015. Their results also show 2015 will be the warmest year since 1891.
Earlier this month NOAA announced that the average temperature for the U.S. in 2015 was 54.4 degrees, making it the second-warmest year in 121 years of record-keeping in the Lower 48 states.
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