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The 10 Hottest Years on Record

By Climate Central

NOAA and NASA jointly released their global temperature data, making it official: 2015 was the hottest year on record (since 1880). The previous hottest year was 2014, and the last time back-to-back hottest years occurred were 2006-07. In fact, the top 10 hottest years have all happened since 1998.

The record was not close. With a global temperature that was 1.62°F above the 20th century average, 2015 was way ahead of the previous 5 hottest years. The previous number 1 year, 2014, was only 1.33°F above average. This 2015 record comes as no surprise as the globe had its hottest spring, summer, and fall on record.

The record heat of 2015 adds to other long term warming trends. Of the hottest years on record, 15 out of 17 have come since 2000. By contrast, more than a century has gone by since the planet had a record cold year (1911). In addition, this marks 39 years in a row with above average global temperatures and 372 months in a row with global temperatures above average. 

While there has been some speculation that El Niño is main factor behind 2015’s record warmth, it had only a minor impact. The continued buildup of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel emissions has kept the globe on a long term warming trend for more than a century. A recent attribution study found that El Niño provided only a little nudge to 2015.