Hot Flash

Watch 135 years of global warming in under 30 seconds.

January 26, 2016

With the end of 2015, the planet closed out its hottest year on record, smashing the previous high set just the year before. Thats right, two hottest years in a row! This NASA visualization shows our journey to these steamy times, starting way back in 1880 when we first began keeping tabs on global temperatures. The blues represent temperatures cooler than the 1950-80 baseline average, while orange represents temperatures above that baseline.

You’ll notice things start looking more and more sunset-hued (or fires-of-hell-hued, whichever you prefer) toward the end of the video—15 of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. In addition to recieving the title for hottest year, 2015 hit another milestone: The first time global temperatures have been 1 degree Celsius or more above the average during the late 19th century. We sure have come a long way from the Victorian Era, but when it comes to setting off centuries of pollution-fueled climate change, I wouldnt call it progress.

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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