During 2015 Minnesota experienced the warmest September and December on record. Those months helped to make 2015 the 7th warmest, statewide. But it wasn't just Minnesota, the U.S., or even North America that had a warm year.
Today, climate scientists told us that, in 2015, the entire globe set a new record.
We had a hunch this news was coming a few weeks ago, because global temperatures through November had been so warm. Still, with 136 years of global temperature records, to have 2014 knocked out of the warmest spot so quickly, and by so much, is remarkable.
This map shows surface temperatures as compared to the 20th century average (considered to be the baseline). The blue-shaded areas were colder than average -- near record cold, in fact, in the North Atlantic, just south of Greenland. But, the amount of red on this map shows that there were far more more warm or record-warm areas.
Looking at where most humans live (on land), every continent experienced it's Top 6 Warmest year on record.
As warm as land areas were, though, ocean areas were even warmer, with large portions of the Pacific, Indian, and western Atlantic Oceans near record warmth. It's likely that ocean areas pushed the 2015 record so far the previous warmest year (2014). I asked Dr. Pawson what role El Nino (the cyclic warming of the ocean that occurs in the tropical Pacific) played in all of this.
It turns out that this current El Nino didn't really get rolling until September; so late in the season that a lot of warming had already taken place, even without its help. So, while El Nino likely accounted for the exceptionally warm temperatures, NASA-Goddard scientist Dr. Gavin Schmidt believes that most of the warming was due to climate change. It's a sentiment that Dr. Pawson also agrees with.
All of the Top 10 warmest years on record, globally, have occurred since 1998. NASA scientists expect that 2016 will be another exceptionally warm year worldwide... and could set another record.