Its official! 2014 was the warmest year ever recorded on planet Earth.
According to a report released today by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, Earth’s combined average temperature for the year – over both land and sea surfaces – was 58.33°F. That is 1.33°F above the 20th century average. It surpassed the previous annual record held by both 2005 and 2010 by 0.07°F. 2014 also marked the 38th consecutive year that our global temperature was above its long-term norm.
Rising ocean temperatures, according to NOAA, helped fuel this record warmth. The globally averaged sea surface temperature for 2014 was 1.03°F above the 20th century average of 60.9°F. That is the highest on record, breaking the former record set in 1998 and tied in 2003 by 0.09°F.
It is interesting to note that ENSO-neutral conditions were present during all of 2014. That means El Niño, the warm phase of ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) did not influence this record warm year. Scientists, while acknowledging the decrease in the rate of warming over the past decade, say this fact undeniably confirms the continuation of global warming.
While heat dominated most of the planet in 2014, including parts of Alaska and the western United States, the eastern two-thirds of this country was one of the few cold pockets. Overall, the contiguous US experienced its 34th warmest year on record. This highlights the fact that climate change is a complex global phenomenon that involves much more than what is happening in our own backyards.
With records going back to 1880, nine of this planet’s top ten warmest years on record have all occurred since 2000. The only exception was 1998. As greenhouse gases – which drive our global temperature upward – are continuously emitted into the atmosphere, scientists say we can expect global temperatures to continue to rise and more warm records to be broken.