Looking back at the winter of 2014-2015, conditions here in the northeastern United States were exceptionally cold and snowy. Globally, however, it was a record warm season!
According to a recent report from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, the meteorological winter of 2015 (December, January, and February) was the warmest winter ever recorded on this planet. Earth’s combined average temperature for the season – over both land and sea surfaces – was 55.22°F. That is 1.42°F above the 20th century average. It surpassed the previous record set in the winter of 2006-07 by 0.07°F.
Rising ocean temperatures, according to NOAA, helped fuel the season’s record warmth. Between December and February, the average global ocean surface temperature was 61.67°F, which is 0.97°F above average and the third highest ever recorded for the three month period.
In the contiguous United States, this past winter was the 19th warmest on record with an average temperature of 34.3°F. That is 2.1°F. above the 20th century average. NOAA says the record warmth in the West outweighed the cold in the East.
While the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are warming overall, this winter’s temperature anomalies (both above and below average) highlight the fact that climate change is a complex global phenomenon that involves much more than what is happening in our own backyards.
Year to date, 2015 is off to a record warm start. Global temperature records date back to 1880.