The American Meteorologist Society published the State of the Climate report for 2015, and the findings are pretty alarming. Numerous records were broken, such as the highest temperature on record and the highest amount of carbon dioxide in the air.
This is the 26th annual State of the Climate, which is released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Thomas Karl, director of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, discussed the report during a teleconference.
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"We have to understand how the planet is changing and varying ... in order to understand where we may be going in the future," he said.
The report says that the unprecedented warmth in 2015 was due in part to a strong El Niño, the warm phase in the Pacific. It was so powerful that NASA climatologist Bill Patzert nicknamed it "Godzilla." This, along with the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, results in the increase in temperature.
There have been other effects besides the drastic rise in temperature, too -- other worrisome environmental records have been set. Last year, we saw the highest amount of heat energy absorbed by the oceans as well as the lowest groundwater storage levels -- throughout the world. There was a record number of hurricanes in the Pacific as well.
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While we may not have felt those records breaking, the shift in climate appeared in other ways we can more easily see. The Western United States experienced heavy rain and flooding, while parts of Africa and India experienced drought.
Not only that, but wildlife is also impacted by these changes. Penguin and walrus populations severely declined. Humans were not immune either: people in India and Pakistan died from extreme heat.
NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden, co-editor of the report, urged people to take this seriously. She said, "This impacts people. This is real life."