Provisional figures indicate that last year was the warmest since records started in 1850, according to scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia's climatic research unit.
The organisations, which used the HadCRUT4 dataset, revealed that, compared with the pre-industrial period, the 2015 average global temperature was around 1ºC above the long-term average from 1850 to 1900. Separate datasets from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Nasa, which go back to 1880, confirmed that last year was the warmest recorded.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said 15 of the 16 hottest years on record have all been this century, and that 2011–15 was the warmest five-year period.
‘An exceptionally strong El Niño and global warming caused by greenhouse gases joined forces with dramatic effect on the climate system in 2015,’ said WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas. ‘The power of El Niño will fade in the coming months but the impacts of human-induced climate change will be with us for many decades.’