Skip to Content

2015 Was the Warmest Year on Record, and It Wasn’t Even Close

Warming oceans and a sharp rise in air temperatures show that climate change is in full effect – and may be outstripping predictions.
January 20, 2016

The numbers are in, and they are unforgiving: 2015 was the hottest year on record, and it wasn’t even close. The announcement was expected—scientists monitoring global temperatures predicted before the end of the year that 2015 would set a record for warmth, in part because of the massive El Niño event currently under way in the Pacific Ocean. But the data released today confirm that human-induced global warming is pushing temperatures higher at an alarming rate: 2014 was the previous record holder for global average surface temperature, clocking in at 0.57 °C above the 1960 to 1990 average, but last year was 0.75 °C above that average.

If that doesn’t sound like a big jump, consider that the agreement reached at the U.N. climate summit in Paris last year aims to limit warming to 2 °C above preindustrial levels. The good news is that the agreement represents the first global effort to try to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions. The bad news is we’re already half way to that 2 °C target. Worse, the figures released today could be underestimates, and even if the Paris agreement is upheld we could be headed for much more warming, unless we get even more ambitious in our emissions targets.

(Source: New York Times, Guardian, New Scientist)

Keep Reading

Most Popular

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

pig kidney transplant surgery
pig kidney transplant surgery

Surgeons have successfully tested a pig’s kidney in a human patient

The test, in a brain-dead patient, was very short but represents a milestone in the long quest to use animal organs in human transplants.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

thermal image of young woman wearing mask
thermal image of young woman wearing mask

The covid tech that is intimately tied to China’s surveillance state

Heat-sensing cameras and face recognition systems may help fight covid-19—but they also make us complicit in the high-tech oppression of Uyghurs.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.