31 Dec 2015

2016 likely to be even warmer than 2015

8:43 am on 31 December 2015

The record-breaking temperatures seen in 2015 are set to continue next year, generating more extreme weather events, says a climate scientist.

Dry paddocks near Ranfurly and Kyeburn in Maniototo.

Dry paddocks near Ranfurly and Kyeburn in Maniototo earlier this year Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Last month, the World Meteorological Organisation said 2015 was likely to be the hottest year on record, with this year's temperatures running 'well above' any previous 12-month period.

The five-year period from 2011 to 2015 was also the warmest on record, with researchers blaming the rise on a combination of a strong El Nino and human-induced global warming.

A map showing how far 2015's temperatures have deviated from the 1961-1990 average.

A map showing how far 2015's temperatures have deviated from the 1961-1990 average. Photo: WMO

A number of intense weather-related events over the past year were symptoms of climate change, said climate scientist James Renwick, a professor of physical geography at Victoria University

"The globe is warmer now, this year we've cracked a degree of warming above pre-industrial levels, so we're halfway to that two-degree limit that we don't want to cross. And you warm the atmosphere up and that puts more moisture in the air and that's already been measured at about 5 percent more moisture in the atmosphere now than there was 50 or 60 years ago. So when it rains, more rain falls because of that.

Prof Renwick said 2016 was expected to be even warmer than 2015, partly because of the lingering effects of the El Nino weather pattern.

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