US government scientists are widely expected
to announce Wednesday that 2015 was the planet's hottest year in modern times,
amid mounting concerns over the pace of climate change worldwide.
Last year's global average temperature over
land and sea surfaces is scheduled to be revealed at 11:00 am (1600 GMT), in a
conference call between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA), the US space agency NASA and reporters.
Scientists who track climate expect 2015
will beat 2014 for the warmest since the 1800s, particularly since NOAA
announced in December that global heat records were broken in nine months of
the year, including the last seven in a row.
The "first 11 months of 2015 were the
warmest such period on record across the world's land and ocean surfaces,"
NOAA said in that report, the same kind it delivers each month, tallying the
world's extreme weather events and temperature averages.
Jake Crouch, climate scientist at NOAA's
National Centers for Environmental Information, added: "At this point
we're virtually certain that 2015 will be the warmest year on record."
Another group, Berkeley Earth -- a US
non-profit organization that says it was founded by people who saw some merit
in the claims of climate change skeptics -- has already released its findings.
"2015 was unambiguously the hottest
year on record," it said in a statement last week.
"For the first time in recorded
history, the Earth's temperature is clearly more than 1.0 C (1.8 F) above the