2014 on Track to be Hottest Year on Record

, , climate scientist | November 20, 2014, 12:23 pm EST
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Today, NOAA announced another startling record-breaking month of elevated global temperatures. We have just experienced the  hottest October since record keeping began 135 years ago. This year, May, June, August, September and now October – half the months so far – all smashed previous records for global land and ocean temperatures.

According to NOAA, “The January–October combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the warmest such period on record, surpassing the previous record set in 1998 and 2010.”

This visualization shows how global temperatures have risen from 1950 through the end of 2013. Source: NASA/GSFC, GISS

Nine of the ten hottest years on record are since the year 2000

Over the last half century, global average temperatures have continued to climb. Here are some astounding statistics:

  • Nine of the world’s top ten warmest years have occurred since the year 2000
  • There has not been a monthly cold record set since 1916
  • October was the 356th month in a row with global average temperature above the 20th century average
  • 2014 will be the 38th consecutive year above global average temperature

This means if you are a young person in your 30s you have never experienced an average year, but have spent your whole life in a warmer world.

A graph of global average annual temperature since 1880.

Temperature trends continue to climb. Source: NOAA

Years in which El Niño amplifies warming are usually the hot ones – not this year

However, 2014 is different from other recent record-breaking years. So far, it is happening without the influence of an El Niño event, which usually brings warmer weather. The warming of the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean during an El Niño affects weather in many parts of the world, and was present during the scorching years of 1998, 2005, and 2010 – the top three in the list. This year El Niño has not made its presence felt yet, and NOAA has lowered the odds of it happening, but temperatures still remain high – a harbinger that the paradigm may be shifting. It seems that regardless of what happens with the natural ocean variations, human-caused warming is now clearly dominating the climate system.

2014 will likely add another peak in the global temperature curve, largely as a result of warming due to heat-trapping emissions from human activity over the last half century. As the headline statement from the IPCC 5th Assessment Report made clear several weeks ago, human activity is “extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid 20thcentury.”

Toward a solution

To avoid a future where we continue to relentlessly break temperature records, we need to deeply and swiftly reduce our heat-trapping emissions. The historic climate agreement last week between the U.S. and China could start us on that road.

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  • DiscusBS

    NOAA’s website http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/ shows the period ranking as 69th out of last 119 years of kept records. Hardly the hottest. Cherry picking data and misreporting such as this is indicative of the fact that politics now trumps science and accuracy. Agenda driven reporting and pseudoscience should be noted for what it is and round filed. There have been at least 78 major global temperature swings over the last 4,000 plus years. If we see increased volcanism in conjunction with decreased solar flaring we could really see even greater cooling. What should be an actual concern is that our freshwater supplies are not being adequately protected from overuse by industry and agriculture. We have far too many people in need of safe drinking water. Industry needs to clean up its act and greedy corporate agriculture needs to be controlled before they destroy much of the earth’s already stressed ecosystems.

    • Biologyteacher100

      Perhaps you are looking at data for the contiguous 48 states. This article is about global averages.

  • Mollie Norris

    UAH data shows 1998 as hottest year from 1979 -2014. 1936 was hotter, but not shown on this graph. I’ll stick with physical scientists on climate data, but not inaccurate climate models. We should probably expect some El Nino warming, though, since the ENSO index is currently .8; well above the .5 indicating El Nino conditions, but still weak.
    2014 had the lowest number of UAH station reporting a maximum above 90 degrees on record.

    • jack dale

      The mid 1930’s were hot in the US – 2% of the earth.

  • TomHarrisICSC

    This is nonsense.
    Here are the
    stats:

    1 – The record for
    Oct 2014 was set by 1/100 deg C over that for Oct 2003, but the uncertainty in
    the calculated temperature is 7 times bigger, according to the National Climate
    Data Center.

    2 – the year to
    date “record” was set over 2010 by 1/100th of a degree C and the
    uncertainty is 11 times bigger.

    So, the records
    are meaningless.

    Tom Harris, B.
    Eng., M. Eng. (Mech.)

    Executive
    Director,

    International
    Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

    http://www.climatescienceinternational.org

    • Jon White

      So, no record is legitimate unless p< (say) .05? Somebody tell Usain Bolt!

    • Jon White

      You do understand that it is not a single month or a single year but the trend I presume?

      • TomHarrisICSC

        So, you agreed that it should not have been reported as a record?

      • CB

        lol! Bubby, what do you think nitpicking over whether 2014 or 2010 was the hottest year in the last century will get you?

        Do you think that will make you look like an honest and reliable source of information?

        How could you possibly hope to mislead people with tactics so ridiculous?

        Who would pay a propagandist so incompetent?

    • cunudiun

      According to the National Climatic Data Center, the reported temperature
      is “the most likely” value. So it is incorrect to say the record is “meaningless”.

      http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/faq/global-precision.php

      • Biologyteacher100

        Scientists, in general, are much more concerned about trends than “records.” The fact that 9 of 10 of the warmest years have occurred since 2000 is very significant. However, many of us are tired of the “no warming in xx years theme”. Thus, when we have a new record, that theme should be put to rest for a few years at least.

      • TomHarrisICSC

        If you are really a biology teacher, what do you tell your students when they get excited about a one-one hundredth of degree increase or decrease when the error bar is seven times that.

      • Biologyteacher100

        When I publish scientific articles based on long term data, I look to trends and correlations. This is the normal approach for descriptive data. Fortunately, most of my research uses experimental approaches that can be tested with ANOVA. As you probably realize, most climate research is not experimental, so for describing historical data, scientists often use regression and correlation and do the tests over the longest times available.

      • Greyguy

        Are yiu saying that “the most likely ” value is not a real value but one createdby a model? If so then it is not real data and NOAA is at it again. They have a habit of substituting Model data for actual data in the past. So what is it REAL OR IMAGINED BY A MODEL?

      • cunudiun

        No I am not saying that, and I don’t think you are correct about NOAA being “at it again”. If you don’t trust NOAA’s data, whose data do you trust? NOAA explains exactly what they do with their temperature data and why here:
        http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/ushcn/

      • Greyguy

        Unfortunately, in the past they have substituted “model data” for actual data. Whether this was to satisfy political forces at budget time or the bias of the hierachy I have not a clue. This is one of the reasons that once there is a hypothesis there always needs to be follow ups experiments and dats to constantly verify until there is enough reproducability of the experiments/data to prove the hy

      • cunudiun

        No they haven’t.

      • Greyguy

        Let me give you a lesson in scientific ethics. There was a study survey done around 2000 or 2001 that was sent to 10000 professors at the top 300 research universities in the US and it asked about fudging and/or removing data to favorably impact your research.

        4700 of the 10000 replied. Of the 4700 that replied, 84% affirmed that they had in some way manipulated data to positively influence their work.

        I am an engineer, when I design and build something it has to work or someone can get hurt or die, so it must be right. when I see certain industries and what they do, I could not work there. When I see government regulations like CAFE standards make cars lighter and less safe it bothers me that there will be 5000 additional deaths per year to save a few gallons of gas. I have an extreme ethics problem with a lot of the scientific community because they are either agenda driven or are for sale; either way people die!

      • cunudiun

        Do you really expect people to take you seriously?

      • Greyguy

        This is a very interesting site of self adulation and big words and no facts. When someone challenges an idea or points out a flaw or misdeed you sound no one will admit it happened. You should take me seriously because I use facts, not the emotional blather that you put forth. You my friend do not like facts because they are inconvenient to the narrative.

      • cunudiun

        I think it’s pretty obvious where the “emotional blather” is coming from.

    • Dave
      • TomHarrisICSC

        and your point, Dave?