The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officially declared 2014 the hottest year in 134 years of record keeping.
NOAA reported that this was the hottest December on record and that 2014 as a whole was 1.24°F (0.69°C) above the 20th century average: “This was the highest among all years in the 1880-2014 record, surpassing the previous records of 2005 and 2010 by 0.07°F (0.04°C).”
As the NOAA data makes clear, human-caused global warming has seen no “hiatus.” In fact, as the top figure shows, the decade of the 2010s is on track to be the hottest decade on record. The 1980s were the hottest decade on record at the time. Then they were beat by 1990s, which in turn were beat by the 2000s for the title of hottest decade. Each decade this century is likely to be the hottest on record — unless we slash carbon pollution ASAP.
“This is the latest in a series of warm years, in a series of warm decades,” said Dr. Gavin Schmidt director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, which tracks global temps. “While the ranking of individual years can be affected by chaotic weather patterns, the long-term trends are attributable to drivers of climate change that right now are dominated by human emissions of greenhouse gases.”
“The globe is warmer now than it has been in the last 100 years and more likely in at least 5,000 years,” said Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis. “Any wisps of doubt that human activities are at fault are now gone with the wind.”
NASA posted this background video on “2014: Warmest Year On Record”:
The Japan Meteorological Agency had previously announced 2014 was the hottest year in more than 120 years of record-keeping — by far. The World Meteorological Organization WMO had said a month ago that 2014 was on track to be hottest year on record (different climate-tracking groups around the world use slightly different data sets).
The United States saw the second-warmest December on record, the 34th warmest year on record, and helped create its “most severe drought in the last 1200 years.
It’s doubly impressive 2014 set the record for hottest year since we’re still waiting for the start of El Niño.
Global temperature records are usually set when the long-term warming trend combines with the regional El Niño warming pattern. But human-caused carbon pollution has pushed atmospheric CO2 to levels not seen for millions of years, when the Earth was considerably hotter and sea levels up to 100 feet higher.
“The record temperatures underscore the undeniable fact that we are witnessing, before our eyes, the effects of human-caused climate change,” said leading climatologist Michael Mann. “It is exceptionally unlikely that we would be seeing a record year, during a record warm decade, during a multidecadal period of warmth that appears to be unrivaled over at least the past millennium, were it not for the rising levels of planet-warming gases produced by fossil fuel burning.”
Dr. Marshall Shepherd, who was President of the American Meteorological Society in 2013, said of this NOAA-NASA Report:
“If you are younger than 29 years old, you haven’t lived in a month that was cooler than the 20th century average. That’s a new normal that is a result of human activities on top of the natural varying climate that has global temperature trends moving very quickly towards a 1-2 C increase. While that may sound insignificant, it’s best to think of it as the difference between a low-grade fever and one just a few degrees higher that can have an impact on the body.
And, of course, if we don’t act quickly to cut carbon pollution, then we’ll ultimately get a 4°C to 5°C (7F to 9F) warming or higher over the next century, a fever that would ravage modern human civilization as we know it today.
While blasts of cold temperature in parts of the United States received considerable attention this fall and winter, the “second warmest December [on record] boosted 2014 to 34th warmest year for contiguous U.S.” in 120 years of record-keeping, as NOAA reported.
That means in the United States, “the temperature exceeded the 20th Century average for the 18th consecutive year.” While the Midwest was cooler than normal, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Alaska all experienced their hottest year on record. In fact, the Golden State shattered its old record by a remarkable of 2.3°F.
When the earth sets a record for the hottest year, large parts of it also blow out previous records. NOAA reports:
Record warmth was spread around the world, including Far East Russia into western Alaska, the western United States, parts of interior South America most of Europe stretching into northern Africa, parts of eastern and western coastal Australia, much of the northeastern Pacific around the Gulf of Alaska, the central to western equatorial Pacific, large swaths of northwestern and southeastern Atlantic, most of the Norwegian Sea, and parts of the central to southern Indian Ocean.
Europe was the hottest it’s been in 500 years. One new analysis concluded “global warming has made a temperature anomaly like the one observed in 2014 in Europe at least 80 times more likely.” Australia broke heat records across the continent (for the second year running). Back in January, “temperatures soared higher than 120°F (49°C).”
Much of Siberia “defrosted in spring and early summer under temperatures more than 9°F (5°C) above its 1981 to 2010 average.” This is the region’s second blazingly hot summer in a row. Scientists now think the huge crater discovered this year in the area “was probably caused by thawing permafrost.” If such hot Siberian summers continue, permafrost will thaw and release its vast amount of heat-trapping carbon even sooner than expected.