2014 proves hottest on record, driven in part by climate change
Last Updated Jan 16, 2015 1:15 PM EST
It’s official: 2014 was the hottest year ever.
Two separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that temperatures across the globe last year were the warmest since 1880. The 10 warmest years, with the exception of 1998, have occurred since 2000.
“This is the latest in a series of warm years, in a series of warm decades,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. “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.”
During 2014, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.24 degrees Fahrenheit (0.69 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all 135 years in the 1880-2014 record, surpassing the previous records of 2005 and 2010 by 0.07 degrees F (0.04 degrees C).
Much of the increase was due to warming in global oceans, NOAA said, particulary in the northeastern Pacific Ocean in and around the Gulf of Alaska, much of the western equatorial Pacific, parts of the western North Atlantic and western South Atlantic, and much of the Norwegian and Barents Seas. The annually-averaged temperature for ocean surfaces around the world was 0.57 degrees C (1.03 degrees F) higher than the 20th century average, breaking the previous records of 1998 and 2003 by 0.05 degrees C (0.09 degrees F).
Temperature records on land were also reached across the globe, from far eastern Russia to Australia, across the western United States and much of Europe.
The rising temperatures are part of a long-term trend that goes back decades and is driven to a large degree by the burning of coal, oil and gas, which traps heats, changing the climate.
Since 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees F (0.8 degrees C). The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades.
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