It’s the outcome the world wants to avoid, but we are already halfway there. All but one of the main trackers of global surface temperature are now passing more than 1 °C of warming relative to the second half of the 19th century, according to an exclusive analysis done for New Scientist.
We could also be seeing the end of the much-discussed slowdown in surface warming since 1998, meaning this is just the start of a period of rapid warming.
“There’s a good chance the hiatus is over,”
says Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
Last year was the hottest since records began, but only just. With an El Niño now under way – meaning warm surface waters in the Pacific are releasing heat into the atmosphere – and predicted to intensify, it looks as if the global average surface temperature could jump by around 0.1 °C in just one year.
“2015 is shaping up to smash the old record,” says Trenberth.
Read more: New Scientist