Climate change records shattered during 'grim' 2015

Climate change appears to be in full swing with the latest State Of The Climate report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showing that dozens of climate records were broken last year.

Nicknamed the ‘annual physical for the planet’, the report shows that 2015 was the hottest year on record with a broad range of temperature peaks documented.

These include record heat energy absorbed by the oceans and the lowest groundwater storage levels globally.

"I think the time to call the doctor was years ago," said NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt who is co-editor of the report. "We are awash in multiple symptoms."

The 2015 State Of The Climate report examined 50 different aspects of climate, including dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice and glaciers worldwide.

A dozen different nations set hottest year records, including Russia and China. South Africa had the hottest temperature ever recorded in the month of October, at 48.4C.

"There is really only one word for this parade of shattered climate records: grim," said Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb.

Although Cobb was not part of the report, she described its contents as "exhaustive and thorough".

Scientists also said the turbo-charged climate affected walrus and penguin populations and played a role in dangerous algae blooms, such as a notable example off the Pacific Northwest coast.

They added that there were brutal heatwaves all over the world, with ones in India and Pakistan killing thousands of people.

Last month, advisors for the UK government called for urgent action to deal with the significant risks associated with climate change, including flooding and heatwaves, amid a number of policy decisions that reduce funding for renewable energy schemes. 

Much of 2015’s record-breaking weather was down to a combination of the natural El Nino event - the periodic warming of parts of the Pacific that changes weather patterns globally - and ever increasing man-made global warming.

"This impacts people. This is real life," said NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden who also worked on the report.

Oklahoma University meteorology professor Jason Furtado said in an email that the report (of which he was not part) illustrates the combined power of nature and humans on Earth's climate: "It was like injecting an already amped-up climate system with a dose of (natural) steroids."

Around 450 scientists from around the world helped write the report and in it the NOAA highlighted one of the lesser-known measurements: ocean heat content.

Around 93 per cent of the heat energy trapped by greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas, goes directly into the ocean, which hit record heat levels both near the surface and deep below as a result.

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