Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2015

March 2016

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is the United Nations system’s authoritative voice on weather, climate and water. For over two decades, WMO has published annual assessments of the state of the global climate in the U.N.’s six official languages to inform governments about global climate trends and extreme and notable events at the national and regional levels. These assessments integrate and analyze information provided by leading climate data centers and by the world’s National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs).


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Report Summary

The Global Picture

  • Long-term greenhouse warming combined with additional influence of a major El Niño to make 2015 the warmest year on record by a large margin.
  • The global average of combined near-surface atmosphere and sea surface temperatures was 0.76°C above the 1961-1990 global average and 1°C above the 1850-1900 period, halfway to the Paris Agreement’s aim of holding the temperature increase to “well below 2°C.”
  • 2015 had the highest global ocean heat content on record — about 90% of the extra heat captured by humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions is stored in the oceans, contributing to ocean water expansion and a great portion of the 2015 record global mean sea level.

National and Regional Extremes

  • 2015 was the warmest year on record for Asia and South America.
  • 2015 was the warmest year on record for the Russian Federation, China, Estonia, Finland and Spain.
  • Major heat waves affected the Indian sub-continent, with temperatures up to 47.0°C resulting in some 2,500 deaths.
  • Severe drought affected South Africa, European Russia, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, the north and the eastern part of northwest China, and the western United States.
  • Heavy rains and floods affected Tamil Nadu and coastal Andhra Pradesh in India, several parts of South America, France, Burkina Faso and Niger.
  • Patricia was the strongest hurricane on record in either the Atlantic or eastern North Pacific basins, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 215 mph. It made landfall on the Mexican coast on 24 October.
  • Chapala was the first tropical cyclone to make landfall in Yemen at hurricane strength during the satellite era.
  • At the end of August, three storms in the Pacific basin — Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena — represented the first simultaneous occurrence of three major hurricanes in the basin since records began in 1949.


Report Focus: Ocean Heat

El Niño

The 2015-2016 El Niño remains one of the largest such events on record and had an important impact on the 2015 climate.

WMO has produced a three-minute video on the current El Niño in multiple languages that is available on Youtube. To download a high-resolution version, please contact

This video is available in:
    • English
    • French
    • Spanish

Through this interactive, Climate Central looks at how El Niño typically influences the world’s weather, what it can mean for societies in the areas it affects, and what has actually been happening with this particular event.

To embed, head to the live version of the interactive and click the link in the bottom left for sizing options and the code.

SOCCOM: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Southern Ocean

(Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling)

The Southern Ocean that encircles Antarctica soaks up a majority of the planet's excess heat and half of the human-made carbon that's absorbed by the oceans. Yet, the inner workings — and global importance — of the ocean that accounts for 30% of the world's ocean area remains relatively unknown to scientists, as observations remain hindered by dangerous seas. A new collaborative initiative now seeks to make the Southern Ocean better known scientifically and publicly by creating a biogeochemical and physical portrait through hundreds of robotic floats deployed around Antarctica.

Freely available photos and video of the float deployments >>

SOCCOM: So What?

Learn more about the robotic floats

Scientists aboard the ships chronicle their experiences deploying floats

Surging Seas: Global Sea Level Rise

If the current path of carbon emissions continues and causes up to 4°C (7.2°F) of warming, this could lock in enough sea level rise to submerge land which is now home to more than half a billion people globally and over 20 million in the United States. Unfolding over centuries, this rise would pose an ongoing threat to cities, infrastructure, cultural heritage and political stability; but limiting warming to 2°C (3.6°F) could cut the threat by more than half.

Below are a range of multimedia options to show the different impacts between 2°C vs. 4°C for both the United States and the rest of the globe.


U.S.  |  Global
Video Fly-overs of Cities

U.S.  |  Global
(All on one page)
Inundation Images

U.S.  |  Global

Happy World Meteorological Day!

Every year on 23 March, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in over 190 countries celebrate the coming into force of the convention that established the WMO in 1950. This year's theme of “Hotter, Drier, Wetter. Face the Future” recognizes the changes that are occurring in our climate and calls on each of us to face the future by taking positive action. As described in the newly released WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate, 2015 was the hottest year since modern observations began. The report also confirms that climate change is already increasing the frequency and intensity of heatwaves, droughts and heavy rainstorms. We must face these facts and, inspired by last year’s Paris Agreement and by the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda, prepare for the future.

For more information about World Meteorological Day, please visit


For more information, please contact:


Tuesday, March 22 at 7am EDT

WebEx login: here >>

Password: cc16
Audio conference: +1-415-655-0003
Access code: 661 109 939

The webinar will be posted to our Workshops & Webinars page shortly after the event.

WXshift — Climate Change Indicators

Here are resources and analyses of climate change indicators that help contextualize both the local and global impacts of climate change:

Arctic Sea Ice

El Niño

Ocean Acidification

Carbon Dioxide

Extreme Heat

Snow Cover

Sea Level Rise

Land Ice

U.S. Wildfires

Global Temperature