2015 likely to be the warmest on record

25 11 2015

This year’s global average surface temperature is likely to be the warmest on record according to data from the Met Office, and is expected to continue the trend showing 15 of the top 16 warmest years have happened since 2001.

These findings concur with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) findings also announced today.

2015 a more ‘clear-cut’ record

Provisional figures up to the end of October show this year’s near-surface global temperature as estimated from the HadCRUT dataset has been around 0.71 ±0.1 °C above the 1961-1990 average of 14.0 °C.

This is in-line with the Met Office’s forecast, issued in December 2014, which predicted 2015 global temperatures would be between 0.52 °C and 0.76 °C* above the 1961-1990 average, with a central estimate of 0.64 °C.

In HadCRUT, this year is clearly warmer than 2014, the previous nominal warmest year in the record, which was 0.57 ±0.1 °C above the 1961-1990 average.

Global Temperature graph

Colin Morice, a climate monitoring scientist at the Met Office, said: “Last year was nominally the warmest year in our records but wasn’t much higher than the other top warmest years. This year the temperature is markedly warmer than anything we’ve previously seen in the 166-year record, meaning its position at the top of the rankings looks set to be much more clear cut.”


The HadCRUT dataset, jointly compiled by the Met Office and Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, uses data from more than 6, 000 observation sites around the world and observations from ships and buoys at sea. It is recognised as one of the world’s leading indices of global temperature.

Temperatures 1 °C above ‘pre-industrial’ for first time

2015 is set to mark the first time in the record that annual global temperatures reach 1 °C above ‘pre-industrial’ temperatures (taken here as an average of the 1850-1900 period*).

This is important because governments around the world have agreed the aim of trying to limit warming to 2 °C or less above pre-industrial to try to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

Leading independently-run datasets agree

Findings from HadCRUT are very similar to independently-run global temperature datasets compiled by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies.

Information from all three datasets is included in an announcement from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on global temperature, which also concludes this year is likely to be the warmest on record.

Where did 2015’s warmth come from?

This year has seen a strong El Niño develop, with unusually warm sea surface temperatures across the Tropical Pacific, releasing heat into the atmosphere and pushing up global temperatures.

Global Temperature chart

Global Temperature chart

While this has contributed to 2015’s warmth, this is likely to be comparatively small compared to the long-term influence of warming caused by human greenhouse gas emissions.

This is backed up by research from the Met Office last year which showed global temperatures seen in recent years would be highly unlikely in a world without human influence on the climate.

What’s in store for the year ahead?

Last year saw record or near record warmth globally, this year is warmer still and the current expectation is that next year will also be warm.

This is due to two factors: firstly, the ongoing warming due to human influence, and secondly although the current El Niño is expected to peak around the end of this year, its main warming influence is usually felt in the months afterwards. For example, a strong El Niño peaked at the end of 1997 – but it was 1998 which went on to become a record (at the time) by some margin.

There are other natural factors – such as changes in longer term ocean cycles or volcanic eruptions – which could act to reduce global temperatures next year, so there will always be some uncertainty.

The Met Office will give more detail in the expected global temperature for 2016 when it publishes its forecast in the latter part of December.


* While late 19th century temperatures are commonly taken to be indicative of pre-industrial, there is no fixed period that is used as standard and a variety of other periods have been used for observational and palaeo datasets. There are limitations in available data in the early instrumental record, making the average temperature in the reference period less certain. There is not a reliable indicator of global temperatures back to 1750, which is the era widely assumed to represent pre-industrial conditions. Therefore 1850-1900 is chosen here as the most reliable reference period, which also corresponds to the period chosen by IPCC to represent a suitable earlier reference period.

Intense storm threatens Sydney

22 04 2015

Parts of New South Wales in southeast Australia have had severe flooding and wind damage over the past few days due to an intense low pressure system. Parts of the region have already seen more than 300mm (around a foot) of rainfall. Areas around Sydney have been affected, with flooding claiming three lives and causing evacuations of properties, as well as disrupting power and transport. Officials warned that hundreds of homes in the city are under threat from rising river levels, and it has been reported that the State Emergency Service (SES) have received nearly 10,000 calls for help and carried out more than 100 rescues.

Analysis chart from Austrlian Bureau of Meteorology

Analysis chart from Austrlian Bureau of Meteorology

The storm is now weakening and moving away southeastwards into the Tasman Sea, so conditions are expected to improve over the next 24 hours, however remnants of the system are likely to bring a further 50 to 75mm of rainfall to some coastal parts today, before conditions gradually become quieter.

Rapid Response image from NASA

Rapid Response image from NASA

For more information on current warnings and forecasts across New South Wales, visit the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website.

NASA Space Apps Challenge – Global winners announced

23 05 2013

The NASA Space Apps Challenge winners have been announced and the T-10 challenge from the Met Office event in London has won the Most Inspiring Award.

Spaceapps T-10 winners

The idea of T-10 was to create an app that could be used in space which would save astronauts time, whilst also connecting Earth and Space. T-10 is a prototype mobile application for use on the International Space Station. Astronauts can choose specific points of interest they wish to photograph, and T-10 will alert them shortly before the station is set to fly over that location if the current weather permits photography.

The app also can also alert astronauts to interesting weather phenomena and upload photos directly to Twitter, as well as alert Earth-based users when the ISS will fly overhead.
British astronaut Tim Peake tweeted “Congrats – great result. Means I shouldn’t ever miss a pic during my mission.”

The team’s next steps are to launch an earth app shortly which will feed data into the International Space Station Wave map.

Honourable mentions were also received for People of Soil in the Galactic Impact category, which was also worked on at the event in London. Two challenges from Exeter also had honourable mentions in the Best Use of Hardware category – Arduhack and Web Rover 1.

Some of the challenges were showcased at the Victoria and Albert Museum Digital Futures exhibition. Martin Roth, Director of the V&A said: “We are delighted to hear that T-10 have won a global award for their brilliant concept. The V&A seeks to inspire creativity and innovation and we are proud to have hosted T-10 and other teams involved in NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge at our Digital Futures event this week. It is great to see such ambitious collaborations between artists, designers and engineers help us understand the universe around us.”

Update: Met Office keeping a close eye on space weather

17 05 2013

Updated on 20th May 2013

The recent activity on the Sun has now decreased back to levels we would normally expect at this point in time, close to a maximum of the 11-year solar cycle.

This follows a period where a sunspot, identified as 1748, emitted a number of powerful solar flares which were directed away from Earth.

There was a concern that another eruption from 1748 would be more directly aimed at Earth as it moved round with the Sun’s rotation. However, 1748 has reduced in size and has seen no significant activity for more than 48 hours.

While the risk of impacts on Earth has decreased, it is still possible that high levels of activity will re-emerge from 1748 while it is facing Earth. The Met Office will continue to monitor the situation.

Mark Gibbs, Head of Space Weather at the Met Office, said: “This sunspot was particularly active last week, sending out one solar flare which was the largest measured for over a year. Fortunately its eruptions were not directed at Earth and we saw very minimal impacts.

“We have observed a decrease in the spot’s activity in the past couple of days and, while a risk remains, we are now at a normal level of activity for this point in the solar cycle.”


Previous updates:

Updated on 17th May 2013

As per our blog article published yesterday, the Met Office continues to closely monitor the Sun following a recent surge in its activity related to a sunspot (identified by the number 1748).

This morning saw a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), which is an eruption of electromagnetically charged gas (plasma), from the sunspot. The CME is due to catch Earth with a glancing blow which is not expected to cause any significant impacts.

There remains a low risk through to the end of next week that we could see a CME from 1748 which is aimed more directly at Earth, but after that the risk is expected to diminish.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updates if there are any changes.

Met Office keeping a close eye on space weather

16 05 2013

The Met Office will be keeping a close eye on the Sun over the coming days after a recent surge in its activity.

It’s fairly common for eruptions from the Sun (often called “space weather”) to occur, and these are usually associated with sunspots – dark areas of intense activity on the surface of the star.

The eruptions from these spots come in several different forms, but if the events are of sufficient strength and directed towards the Earth, they can all cause impacts on our modern-day technology. Impacts range from minor interference to communication networks to temporary disruption to electricity supply, satellites and GPS navigation.

Over the past few days a sunspot, identified by the number 1748, has been the cause of many solar eruptions which have already caused some minor impacts.

NASA image showing a solar flare from sunspot 1748

NASA image showing one of the recent solar flares ejecting from sunspot 1748

Some of the eruptions have been in the form of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), which are plumes of electromagnetically charged gas (plasma). These have been focused away from Earth so far, but, as the sun rotates, there is a chance the sunspot could emit a CME in our direction.

Mark Gibbs, Head of Space Weather at the Met Office, said: “If a strong CME were to be directed at Earth it could have some disruptive impacts, but at the moment the probability of this happening appears to be low.

“We’ll be keeping a close watch on the situation, particularly from Friday evening onwards, to advise on anything that could cause disruption to help the UK minimise any potential impacts. Hopefully this event will pass without the majority of people noticing, but it’s important we monitor the risk.”

Since February 2011, the Met Office has been working with a range of partners, including the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the UK Space Agency to develop a UK-based space weather forecasting service.

This monitors the Sun’s activity and then predicts how these changes are likely to affect the Earth’s environment. The Met Office Hazard Centre currently has forecasters trained in space weather forecasting, and awareness is being raised across different industry sectors to make them aware of their potential vulnerability and how we can help lessen the risks.

In the event of a CME, space weather monitoring can provide anything from 17 hours to 3 days advance warning – allowing vital time to prepare.

Solar activity is currently expected to be high as we are near the peak of an 11-year solar cycle, which sees the Sun’s activity increase and decrease over the period.

You can see more about space weather forecasting in our Youtube video.

NASA International Space Apps Challenge London

29 04 2013

The Met Office hosted the NASA led International Space Apps Challenge at the Google Campus in London on the weekend of the 20 – 21 April.

Chris Gerty, from the Open Innovation Programme at NASA was at the London event and thanked the Met Office for making the weekend such a success.

NASA space apps

More than 85 people attended the event from across the UK and Europe, making 13 different teams working on challenges over the weekend. See all the pictures from the weekend on our Flickr account.

Two challenges from London will go forward for global judging and these were decided by a panel of three judges, Chris Gerty from NASA, Irini Papadimitriou, Digital Programmes Assistant Manager at the V&A and Phil Evans, Government Services Director at the Met Office.

The two winning challenges from London were People of the Soil and T-10.

People of the Soil developed a low cost digital soil testing kit, web and SMS protocols and a web application to collect and share soil data globally.

T-10 created an app that astronauts can use on the Space Station to alert them to suitable times to photograph specific parts of Earth.

These will now be judged against other winning challenges globally, with winners being announced by NASA in the coming weeks. Follow @spaceappslondon to find out which challenges win NASA’s global judging next month.

2nd International Space Apps Challenge at Exeter

24 04 2013

NASA Space Apps Challenge

Over the weekend, the Met Office hosted the NASA led International Space Apps Challenge. Months of planning and challenge selection culminated in a global event with over 480 organisations and more than 9,000 people taking part in 83 cities.The Met Office hosted events at the Met Office headquarters in Exeter and Google Campus in London, which saw over 150 participants work on challenges using open data.

Teams at the event in Exeter participated in a number of challenges including the Arduhack challenge which looked at extending the functionality of the ArduSat with a Raspberry Pi computer and steerable web camera to send images of the Earth to mobile phones.

The judges were extremely impressed by the collaboration of the teams and the progress made on all of the challenges. The two winning solutions, decided by a panel of judges from, Mubaloo, Dundee University and Tangerine Bee, were WebRover1 and Arduhack. These will now be judged against other winning challenges globally, with winners announced a week after the event.

Mark Mason, CEO of Mubaloo said: “We are delighted to have been able to judge at the NASA Space Apps Challenge for the second year in a row. The challenge has again highlighted how much can be achieved in such a short space of time with teams working together using crowdsourcing and open source data. We’d like to wish the winning teams from Exeter best of luck in the global judging.”

Countdown to NASA Space Apps Challenge

18 04 2013

NASA Space Apps ChallengeThis weekend will see the Met Office again linking up with sites across the world for the NASA International Space Apps Challenge.

This year, the Met Office is the European lead event for the Space Apps Challenge, with other events in the UK being held in London, Glasgow, York and Leicester.

In Exeter, over 70 people will be collaborating on challenges which have been submitted by NASA teams and other contributors around the globe.

One challenge designed by Catherine Muller of Birmingham University and Michael Saunby of the Met Office is Smart Cities, Smart Climate. The challenge will look at how sensor networks in cities can be used to monitor the climate in urban areas.

As more of the world’s population now inhabit towns and cities, and the part of the world’s surface covered by built-up environments is growing, Urban environments are becoming increasingly important and relevant to study. Therefore much more data and tools for analysing that data are required.

Spaces are still available for Space Apps Challenge in Exeter. You can follow all the action from the weekend on Twitter @spaceappslondon and @spaceappsexeter.

Met Office European lead for NASA International Space Apps Challenge

1 03 2013

Next month, the Met Office will be the European lead event for the second International Space Apps Challenge.NASA Space Apps Challenge

In collaboration with governments and organisations around the world, the International Space Apps Challenge on the 20th and 21st April will bring together people on every continent to create open solutions with space data.

In the UK, events are being held at York University, Strathclyde University, Leicester University, London (Google Campus) and the Met Office, Exeter.

An initiative of the Open Government Partnership, the International Space Apps Challenge will showcase the impact that people working together around the world can have on addressing challenges, both on earth and in space, by using open government data resulting from space technology.

Events are planned in cities around the globe and encompass far more than just the development of mobile apps. The event will focus on four challenge areas—software, open hardware, citizen science and data visualisation—providing a platform for open innovation and collaborative problem solving.

Phil Evans, Government Services Director at the Met Office said: ‘We are delighted to be partnering with NASA for a second year and also to be European Lead for the International Space Apps Challenge. Last year was a great success, with one team from the Met Office picking up an international award. We look forward to seeing the challenges participants create this year.”  

Teams at the event will also be using our DataPoint web service. This gives access to operational UK weather data and observations as well as exploiting other open data sets available from the Met Office and other participating organisations.

To learn more about the International Space Apps Challenge and to register your interest, visit the Space Apps Challenge homepage. Keep up to date with the latest news on Twitter on @SpaceAppsLondon and @SpaceAppsExeter.

NASA Space Apps Challenge weekend

21 04 2012

Nick Skytland, Programme Manager for NASA Open Government Initiative, has opened the European lead event at the Met Office.


An initiative of the Open Government Partnership, the International Space Apps Challenge will showcase the impact that people working together around the world can have on addressing challenges, both on earth and in space.

60 developers, including Met Office employees, will now have the next two days to create, build, and invent new solutions in order to address challenges of global importance. Working together in small teams they will be using Open Government data resulting from space technology. Teams at the event will also be using our recently launched DataPoint web service.

Nick Skytland said “It’s great to be here collaborating with the Met Office and all of the supporting organisations. The Met Office truly represents the future of using Open Data and Open Source to drive initiative across government.”

On Sunday, the teams will present their projects to a panel of judges. Judges at the Met Office are Charles Ewen, Head of Web at the Met Office, Sarah Weller, Marketing Manager at Mubaloo, Dr Nicolas Outram, Associate Professor, School of Computing and Mathematics at Plymouth University and Becky Maynard Head of International Fundraising and Communications for ShelterBox. Each location will then put forward two projects to determine the global winners.


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