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For those playing at home, you may recall that this has been a long time coming. Back in March, climate scientists predicted that 2015 would be the hottest year in modern human history, smashing last year’s average heat record with a boost from El Niño.

A comparison of the November 1997 and July 2015 El Niños in the Pacific Ocean west of Peru. Areas of warm water appear in red. (Image: NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory)

A comparison of the November 1997 and July 2015 El Niños in the Pacific Ocean west of Peru. Areas of warm water appear in red. The ’97 El Niño led to 1998 being proclaimed the hottest year in history, a position that was only recently unseated by 2014. (Image: NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory)

Throughout the year, the heat has been on, with the monthly combined average temperatures over land and ocean surfaces either breaking records or tying with previous records. January and April tied for the second and third warmest of those months on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but then February, March, May, June, July, August and now September all left 2014 behind.

September 2015 Was the Hottest September in 136 Years

“The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for September 2015 was the highest for September in the 136-year period of record,” NOAA reports, “at 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th century average of 15.0°C (59.0°F), surpassing the previous record set last year in 2014 by 0.12°C (0.19°F).”

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Furthermore, September 2015 marks the fifth consecutive month that a monthly high temperature record has been set, “and is the highest departure from average for any month among all 1629 months in the record that began in January 1880.”

Breaking it down by region, this was the second-warmest September for the United States, at 2.1°C (3.7°F) above the 20th century average. “Record and near-record warmth spanned most of the country,” NOAA reports, “with nine states in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southwest record warm.” Living here in Los Angeles, the Planet Experts team can definitely attest to this.

Areas across the world’s ocean surfaces also experienced record warmth or much warmer-than-average conditions for September, including the entire Indian Ocean, most of the central Atlantic and parts of the South Atlantic and the Greenland, Norwegian and Barents Seas in the Arctic. There is a section in the Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland that remained much cooler than average, and I’ve written at length about what this means for the planet’s future (hint: it’s not good).

“We’re seeing it all across the Indian Ocean, in huge parts of the Atlantic Ocean, in parts of the Arctic oceans,” Dr. Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist with NOAA, told The New York Times. “It’s just incredible to me. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

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Climate Change Is Real, Global Warming Is Real – Do Something

Fourteen of the last 15 years have all set record high temperatures, and this is an issue not only for the planet’s living creatures and environments but also for the global economy. A study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature predicts that global warming will cause average global incomes to shrink by 23 percent by the end of the century. Whereas countries near the Arctic circle will benefit from diminished sea ice (and newly-cleared sea routes), the US and China will not, and Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East will all be in serious trouble.

Syrian refugee center on the Turkish border 50 miles from Aleppo, Syria. Climate change is considered a major factor in precipitating the Syrian civil war. (Photo Credit: Henry Ridgwell)

Syrian refugee center on the Turkish border 50 miles from Aleppo, Syria. Climate change is considered a major factor in precipitating the Syrian civil war. (Photo Credit: Henry Ridgwell)

“What climate change is doing is basically devaluing all the real estate south of the United States and making the whole planet less productive,” said study co-author Solomon Hsiang, an economist and public policy professor at the University of California Berkeley. “Climate change is essentially a massive transfer of value from the hot parts of the world to the cooler parts of the world.”

If you take one point away from all this, it’s that the world is warming. This is a fact, this is indisputable, and it’s largely due to us pumping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This is a state of affairs that was preventable (Exxon knew that as early as the 1970s) and is even now something we can change, but it will take every single person on this planet giving a damn to make that happen.

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2 Responses

  1. Belinda Waymouth says:

    Very succinctly and well put Pierce! There is no time for mucking around now – it’s GAME ON with cllimate change

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