State of the Climate 2015

The State of the Climate report is an annual summary describing the global climate. The 2015 report is a collaborative effort of more than 450 scientists from 62 countries led by NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information and published annually in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. This 300+ page report provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, describes notable weather events, and summarizes data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice and in space.

An overview of all of the findings is presented in the Abstract and Fig. 1.1 (see image below of North America section of Fig 1.1). A full chapter is then dedicated to each of the topics: Global Oceans; the Tropics; the Arctic; and the Antarctic. Chapter 7 - Regional Climates - provides a regional perspective authored largely by local government climate specialists. The regions included are: North America, Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East and Oceania (Pacific, Australia, New Zealand).

The report notably confirms that:

  • 2015 was 1.0°C warmer than pre-industrial times, and
  • the Mauna Loa observatory recorded its first annual mean carbon dioxide concentration greater than 400 ppm.

The report verifies that it was another record-breaking year for global temperatures - 2015 surpassed 2014 as the warmest year since at least the mid-to-late 19th century - with warmer-than-average conditions across most of the Earth’s surface. Long-term warming from climate change and a strong El Niño contributed to the highest annual combined temperature for the ocean and land since reliable records began in the mid-to-late 1800s.

The El Niño event is a backdrop to the majority of the sections in this edition and the editors describe how this phenomenon is “perhaps the most visible reminder of connections across regions, scales, and systems - as it underscores the circumstance that the climate system’s components are intricately connected, to each other and to the world’s many natural and human systems.”

This resource was featured in the August 11, 2016, ASAP Newsletter.

"This annual publication by NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at the National Centers for Environmental Information provides a summary of main climate indicators, new data, and weather events from the past year. In 2015, general climate trends have continued, breaking new records in heat and carbon emissions. And, as many reported, 2015 was 1°C hotter than pre-industrial years."

Report highlights include these 2015 indications of climate change and a warming planet:

  • Greenhouse gases highest on record.
  • Global surface temperature highest on record
  • Sea surface temperatures highest on record
  • Global upper ocean heat content highest on record
  • Global sea level highest on record
  • Extremes were observed in the water cycle and precipitation

This year’s State of the Climate has an emphasis on ecosystems; several chapters have dedicated a sidebar to the relationship between climate change and its impact on living systems. “This notion of connectedness - between climate, landscape, and life; between our daily work and the expression of its meaning; between planetary-scale drivers and humble living things; between the abstraction and rigor of data and the reality and complexity of their importance; and especially between one generation and the next - inspires and informs much of the work within this volume.”

The State of the Climate in 2015 is the 26th edition in a peer-reviewed series published annually as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The journal makes the full report openly available online.


If you have any trouble accessing the website link above, please find here an archived page. You may find this has limited use.

Publication Date: August 2016

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Resource Types:

  • Assessment
  • Climate science


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