The increase in the planet's average surface temperature of about 1 degree Celsius since the late 19th century was driven largely by increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and other human activities.
Most of that warming has occurred in the past 40 years, with the seven most recent years being the warmest. The years 2016 and 2020 are tied for the warmest year on record.
Evidence of Warming
The Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index is updated annually.
The graph shows the change in global surface temperature compared to the long-term average from 1951 to 1980.
NASA’s analyses generally match independent analyses prepared by the Climatic Research Unit and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)).
WMO 2022 Report
In its State of the Global Climate in 2022 report the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) reports that "the past eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record, fuelled by ever-rising greenhouse gas concentrations and accumulated heat".
Other highlights include
- Drought, floods and heatwaves affect large parts of the world and the costs are rising;
- Sea level and ocean heat are at record levels – and this trend will continue for many centuries;
- Antarctic sea ice falls to lowest extent on record;
- Europe shatters records for glacier melt.
Watch a video summary here,
April 2023: ‘Headed off the charts’: world’s ocean surface temperature hits record high
Climate scientists have reported that preliminary data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have shown the average temperature at the ocean’s surface to be 21.1C since the start of April 2023. The previous high was 21C set in 2016.
Their findings are summarised in this article, which also shows how this apparently slight increase is a strong warning sign for increased extremes.
Research teams anticipate that the effects of warming ocean temperatures will increase in frequency, duration and intensity.