A freakish year in broken climate records

The world is seeing more extreme weather - from (clockwise from above) a heatwave in Japan to cyclones in parts of Asia and drought in the US.
The world is seeing more extreme weather - from (above) a heatwave in Japan to cyclones in parts of Asia and drought in the US.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
The world is seeing more extreme weather - from (clockwise from above) a heatwave in Japan to cyclones in parts of Asia and drought in the US.
The world is seeing more extreme weather - from a heatwave in Japan to (above) cyclones in parts of Asia and drought in the US.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
The world is seeing more extreme weather - from (clockwise from above) a heatwave in Japan to cyclones in parts of Asia and drought in the US.
The world is seeing more extreme weather - from a heatwave in Japan to cyclones in parts of Asia and (above) drought in the US.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The annual State of the Climate report is out, and it is ugly. Global sea levels swelled to a high, tropical cyclones continued to multiply and the world's thermometer set a record last year.

The report, compiled by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from the data of 413 researchers in 58 countries, found evidence of warming around the globe, from shrinking glaciers and Arctic sea ice to record high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The numbers are likely to be seized on by politicians and green groups seeking curbs on global warming emissions. The United Nations is trying to broker a deal this year among 190 countries to restrict greenhouse gas pollution.

TEMPERATURES

Four independent measures last year found "the highest annual global surface temperatures in at least 135 years of modern record keeping", the report said. "The warmth was distributed widely around the globe's land areas."

The report found evidence of warming around the globe, from shrinking glaciers and Arctic sea ice to record levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Eastern North America was the only major region of the world to experience below-average annual temperatures. "Europe observed its warmest year on record by a large margin, with close to two dozen countries breaking their previous national temperature records," the report said.

"Many countries in Asia had annual temperatures among their 10 warmest on record; Africa reported above-average temperatures across most of the continent throughout 2014; Australia saw its third-warmest year on record, following record heat there in 2013."

In Latin America, Mexico had its warmest year on record, while Argentina and Uruguay had their second-warmest year on record.

SEA LEVELS

The world's oceans experienced record warmth last year. Owing to both ocean warming and land ice melt contributions, global sea levels reached a record high, about 67mm above the mean in 1993, when satellite measurements began.

GREENHOUSE GASES

"Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide - the major greenhouse gases released into earth's atmosphere - once again all reached record-high average atmospheric concentrations for the year," the report said.

CYCLONES

There were 91 tropical cyclones last year, "well above" the 1981-2010 annual average of 82 storms, according to a statement released with the report.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2015, with the headline 'A freakish year in broken climate records'. Print Edition | Subscribe