A broken record: 2014 hottest year

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13 of the hottest 15 years on record have occurred since 2000 and the odds of that happening randomly without the boost of global warming is 1 in 27 million.

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Climate Central

The final numbers are in: 2014 is officially the hottest year on record in the past 135 years, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Friday.

The record does not come as a surprise as it’s another marker of the sustained accumulation of heat in the atmosphere thanks to the unabated emissions of greenhouses gases such as carbon dioxide. Nine of the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century, with the exception of the blockbuster El Nino year of 1998. It also marks 38 straight years of above-average global annual temperatures.

A Climate Central analysis shows that 13 of the hottest 15 years on record have all occurred since 2000 and that the odds of that happening randomly without the boost of global warming is 1 in 27 million.

According to NOAA, the average global temperature for 2014 was 1.24°F above the 20th century average of 57°F. The year, capped off by a record warm December, surpassed the previous record holders, 2005 and 2010, by 0.07°F.  Those numbers confirm the ranking by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) made earlier this month.

Including December, there were seven months in 2014 that set or tied record warmth.

There are small differences in the way various agencies handle global temperature data, yielding sometimes different rankings for particular months and years. But for 2014, there is broad agreement on the ranking, and for all agencies, nine of the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2000.

The lack of any record cold years since 1911 is another sign of the long-term global warming trend. Over that same period, 19 records for hottest year, including 2014, have been set, according to a Climate Central analysis.

Unusual warmth was spread across certain land regions this year, particularly the Russian Far East, the U.S. West, parts of Australia, and Europe, which saw its hottest year in more than 500 years.

But it was the warmth of the oceans that really stood out. Sea surface temperatures for the planet were a record 1.03°F above the 20th century average, surpassing 2003 and 1998 (when an extreme El Nino boosted ocean heat) by 0.09°F.

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Every ocean basin had some part of it with record warmth, said Thomas Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

How 2015 will shape up is, of course, uncertain, but that ocean heat will play a role, as water responds much more slowly to changes in heat than land. So even if there is an event like a volcano eruption that could cause cooling, that ocean heat isn’t likely to dissipate anytime soon.

“So that gives some added energy for 2015,” Karl said.

Source: Climate Central. Reproduced with permission.

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2 Comments
  1. Alan Baird 4 years ago

    The ocean heat rise is damning. Water is SO much more difficult to heat (than air) and indicates a FAR MORE powerful driver behind it. Imagine trying to warm a room filled with water compared with a room filled with air. It also increases the case for the earth’s water being the “heat bank” during the years when the AIR appeared to be in some sort of stasis. What’s also reassuring (in the worst sense) is that El Nino hasn’t been present in these figures. When the little fellow reappears, watch for those records tumbling. Temperatures of various bodies of air and water can be bandied about to back up one’s predilections and some time ago figures showed that the troposphere and stratosphere had gone in opposite directions. The former had gone up and the latter down. Of course the local coal enthusiasts whooped triumphantly about the drop in the stratosphere temp until I mentioned that that COULD indicate that the increased CO2 in the troposphere could be deflecting more heat back to earth, causing the outer layer to cool by comparison. There was a sudden cessation of triumph (and concomitant correspondence to the paper on that subject).

    • SunGod 4 years ago

      Not to mention ocean acidification as well Alan, and even atmospheric geoengineering to reverse global warming, if it were possible, wouldn’t fix that.

      It seriously makes me mad that even now, as the situation keeps getting worse, meaning more dramatic action required to avoid total catastrophe, we still see major party trolls and troglodytes trying to hand us nonsense about how Saint Kevin’s wonderful ‘CPR$’ (or as a lot of us call it, the Carbon Pollution Reinforcement Subsidy) was somehow a panacea for such problems, and ranting about how terrible us Greens are because we voted it down.

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