Today is World Meteorological Day. Organised by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the theme of this year’s day is: hotter; drier; wetter; face the future. These themes help to illustrate changes already observed in the world’s climate, and they also signpost areas of future concern.
As widely reported at the beginning of this year, scientists from the Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit showed that 2015 was probably the warmest year in a series dating back to at least 1850. Temperatures during 2015 were 0.75°C ±0.1 °C above the long-term (1961-1990) average.
When compared with the pre-industrial period, the 2015 average global temperature was around 1 °C above the long-term average from 1850 to 1900.
Dr Peter Stott is head of climate monitoring and attribution at the Met Office Hadley Centre. He said: “2015 was a record-breaking year for our climate. Global mean temperatures reached 1 °C above pre-industrial levels for the first time and the year’s average global temperature was the highest ever in instrumental records.” The Met Office cites 1850-1900 as the most reliable reference period for pre-industrial times.
The powerful El Niño in the Pacific, bridging 2015 and 2016, has combined with a long-term rise in global temperatures caused by anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions to create a record year. Professor Adam Scaife, who leads long range predictions, added: “With the delayed warming effect of El Niño it’s likely that 2016 may be another record year. After that we expect 2017 will end the run of record-breaking years, but the point remains that over time the planet is getting warmer and this trend is likely to continue.”
The effect of weather and climate in one part of the world can strongly influence what happens in another. With many parts of the world affected, El Niño is just one single, yet powerful, example of why it’s necessary to take a holistic view when looking at weather and climate.
The WMO is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) with 191 Member States and Territories. It was established in 1950, based on the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873 to share weather information between countries. Today the WMO is the UN system’s authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the land and oceans, the weather and climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources.
To find out more about World Meteorological Day and the impacts of extreme weather events during 2015, please visit the website.