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      2015 had hotter temperatures and higher sea levels than ever before

      2015 had hotter temperatures and higher sea levels than ever before 2015 had hotter temperatures and higher sea levels than ever before 2015 had hotter temperatures and higher sea levels than ever before
      Island with fringing reef in the Maldives. Coral reefs around the world are dying (Photo via PalawanaOz)

      Environment

      2015 had hotter temperatures and higher sea levels than ever before

      By Hilary Beaumont

      By several measures, the earth is cooking and getting steadily hotter.

      That's according to a new report that takes the earth's temperature each year, citing data from more than 450 scientists in 62 countries around the world.

      2015 was the warmest year on record since the mid-19th century, causing more tropical cyclones, less sea ice, and higher tides, according to the report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

      In 2015, the earth's global surface and sea temperatures passed the previous record high set in 2014, the report found. The data also points to "larger-than-usual" forest fire activity in North America in 2015, and increased wildfires in Indonesia between August and November, induced by El Niño.

      Related: It's Already Looking Like 2016 Will be the Hottest Year on Record

      The earth's warming in 2015 was partly due to a strong El Niño and partly caused by human-caused climate change, fueled by greenhouse gases trapping heat in our atmosphere.

      And troubling data in the report shows those greenhouse gases reached new record highs last year — at a time when countries around the globe are struggling to set limits to contain them.

      For the first time on record, the annual atmospheric concentration of CO2 passed 400 parts per million in Mauna Loa, Hawaii. That's 3.1 ppm more than the year before, which was the largest annual increase in the 58 years since the record-keeping began.

      All that warming is simmering the world's oceans and melting ice caps and sea ice.

      That's forcing polar bears to swim longer distances, and affecting walruses that give birth on the sea ice.

      Global sea level reached a record high in 2015 — creeping 2.75 inches higher than in 1993, when record-keeping of global sea level rise first began. Each year, the sea is rising at a rate of 3.3 mm per year.

      NASA has found this trend is continuing in 2016, with both shrinking sea ice and global surface temperature breaking new records in the first six months of this year.

      There were 101 tropical storms across all oceans in 2015. That's much higher than the average of 82 storms per year between 1981 and 2010.

      Follow Hilary Beaumont on Twitter: @hilarybeaumont

      Topics: environment, climate change, el nino, nasa, national oceanic and atmospheric administration, greenhouse gas

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