January 16, 2015: NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their analysis on the weather data for 2014, and it’s official: 2014 was the hottest year in 135 years of record-keeping (NOAA started keeping records in 1880; there have likely been plenty of warm years before 1880, but data from those years either doesn’t exist or wasn’t officially kept). These findings match what the Japanese Meteorological Agency also determined; their findings were released last week.
The global temperature (both land and ocean temperatures combined) was 1.24° F above average. This may not seem like much, but consider how large the Earth is, and how much heat is needed to push the average global temperature up over 1 degree. Interestingly, 2014 reached the top mark without the help of El Niño, the global climate pattern that usually leads to an increase in global temperatures.
One thing that we in the Stateline may remember right away was how cold last winter was. You might be asking, ‘How come 2014 was the warmest year on record, yet Winter 2013-2014 was one of the coldest on record? In fact, we had a fairly cool spring and summer too, didn’t we?’ The map below should help answer those questions.
Overall, the Midwest and sections of the South were cooler than average. Those spots are some of the very few areas that had cooler than average conditions. Everywhere else on the globe, conditions were warmer than average, with the West Coast of the U.S. and Europe featuring record-breaking warmth. So while we were shivering through the many cold days in the Stateline, many other places were sweating the record heat out. When you average this all together, the warm spots easily outweigh our cold spot.
Where does 2014 fit in with any current trends? December 2014 continues a very long hot streak, with every month featuring above average global temperatures. The last time we had a month with colder than normal global temperatures was February 1985.
This trend shouldn’t end this month or next month, meaning an important 30 year anniversary is coming up in February 2015. In fact, 2014 fits right in with another trend: it has been nearly 40 years without a colder than average year. 13 out of the top 15 hottest years have occurred since 2000, so 2014 fits in with that trend as well.
This is just a summary of the findings released today, and of course, this is a very complex topic. If you would like to read more about what NASA and NOAA have to say on the news released today, here are the two articles they provided today:
NASA: NASA, NOAA Find 2014 Warmest Year in Modern Record
NOAA: It’s official: 2014 was Earth’s warmest year on record
Both articles have plenty of maps and graphs to help you understand the immense list of data to sift through. Let us know if you have any questions!
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