According to the HadCRUT dataset, jointly run by the Met Office and the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, average global temperatures from January to September 2015 reached 1.02°C (±0.11°C) above ‘pre-industrial levels’ – understood by the IPCC to mean around the years 1850 to 1900. According to the Met Office Hadley Centre, this marks the first time average global temperatures have been observed more than 1°C higher than this base level.
‘This is the first time we’re set to reach the 1°C marker and it’s clear that it’s human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory,’ says Stephen Belcher, director of the Hadley Centre. Symbolically, this marker, partially attributed to the growing El Niño in the Pacific Ocean, brought the world halfway to the 2°C threshold believed to cause substantial damage to the world’s environment.
‘This year marks an important first, but that doesn’t necessarily mean every year from now on will be a degree or more above pre-industrial levels,’ explains Peter Stott, Head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution at the Met Office. ‘Natural variability will still play a role in determining the temperature in any given year. As the world continues to warm in the coming decades, however, we will see more years passing the 1°C marker. Eventually it will become the norm.’
This article was published in the January 2016 edition of Geographical magazine.