It was just in October that our planet first exceeded the 1-degree benchmark in NASA’s records, dating to 1880. Prior to that, the largest anomaly was 0.97 degrees Celsius in January 2007.
The recent measurements become even more significant in light of the recent Paris accord, in which 196 countries boldly agreed to limit the planet’s warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degree Celsius.” The extraordinary warmth of October and November helped push this year well-past the 1-degree benchmark.
We have known that 2015 is all but certain to be the warmest year on record, though we did not know by how much it would be. Given the November report, 2015 will eclipse last year as the warmest year on record by a huge margin.
The Japan Meteorological Agency, which tracks the increasing global temperature, also concluded that last month was the warmest November on record since 1890, relative to the period from 1981 to 2010.
El Niño played a large role in November’s — and the year’s — exceptional warmth. El Niño is an event marked by abnormally warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. The extent of the warm water is huge this year, stretching from the west coast of South America to past the international dateline, which divides the Pacific Ocean. As of November, temperatures in parts of this vast region were running as much as 4 degrees Celsius, or about 7 degrees Fahrenheit, above normal.
But the Pacific Ocean wasn’t the warmest region of the globe in November — much of the warmth measured by NASA emanated from the Arctic, where temperatures were running anywhere from 4 to 10 degrees Celsius (7 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit) above average.