As the concentration of greenhouse gases circulating in the atmosphere rises, many scientists believe more heat is being trapped and reflected back to Earth’s surfaces resulting in elevated land and sea surface temperatures
Did you know that according to NOAA’s temperature records, the decade from 2000-2010 was the warmest decade on record? In fact, 15 of the 16 warmest years on record happened in this century. Globally, annual average land and sea surface temperatures have increased 0.13°F per decade since 1880 and 0.31°F per decade since 1970 (1).
To see evidence of this long-term warming trend, let’s take a look at NASA’s visualization of global temperature change from 1880-2015. The areas in blue show temperatures (Celsius)that are lower than average over a 5-year period. The areas in red show temperatures (Celsius) that are higher than average over a 5-year period. As you move from 1880 to 2015, the map becomes increasingly red.
The year 2015 was the warmest year ever recorded(2); the average global temperature was 1.62°F above the 1901-2000 average of 57°F. Climate scientists attribute last year’s record warmth to a strong El Nino climate pattern. During an El Nino, sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean become warmer than usual. The warm air that rises over the ocean alters the wind patterns in the atmosphere, leading to global temperature increases (3).