The year 2015 is set to be a record-breaker, according to NASA’s latest global temperature data. This year’s temperature is 0.71°C (1.3°F) above the long-term average, and the first five months have been the hottest ever recorded.
NASA’s annual temperatures show a slight variation, where some years are cooler than others, but as John Abraham for The Guardian reports, “2015 is so far this year, simply off the chart.” Abraham suggests that the recent record-breaking temperatures put global warming critics in a difficult position—the evidence is simply not on their side. Temperatures for the last 12 months are at record levels. The idea that the rate of global warming is slowing down or ‘paused’ has been thoroughly refuted. Abraham points out that when surface temperatures and ocean heat content are combined, there is a clear pattern of warming increasing.
This is best demonstrated with the heat wave in India, which has been making the rounds in the media as the sweltering temperatures have caused 2,500 deaths so far. According to a report from Slate’s Eric Holthaus, the temperatures were so hot they melted roads—reaching 45°C (113°F) in New Delhi. Jason Samenow, from The Washington Post, explained that these record-breaking temperatures cannot be divorced from global warming. He noted that greenhouse gases likely contributed to the dire situation and “the climate literature predicts more frequent, intense and longer-duration heat waves in future decades.”
What will future temperatures look like and are these breaking temperatures the new norm? NASA's New Big Dataset, released last week, gives us a glimpse. Using climate modeling simulation results, NASA produced high-resolution details of temperature and precipitation patterns around the world from the years between 1950 and 2100. In July 2099, CO2 concentrations are predicted to reach an all time high at 900 parts per million. We reached 400 parts per million in the first few days of 2015, and average global temperatures are scorching.
The models consist of two possible situations: a ‘business as usual’ scenario based on current trends and an extreme case scenario in which a significant increase in emissions occurs. The datasets are meant to help developing countries—who will bear the brunt of global warming—to prepare for the local effects. They should also help earth scientists to explore what temperatures could be like on a global scale by the end of the century.
Global temperature projection for 2100. NASA
“NASA is in the business of taking what we’ve learned about our planet from space and creating new products that help us all safeguard our future,” said Ellen Stofan, a NASA chief scientist. “With this new global dataset, people around the world have a valuable new tool to use in planning how to cope with a warming planet.”