The year 2014 was the hottest on record worldwide since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and scientists at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The scientists have also said there is very little chance that the record-breaking hot streak was natural.
Scientists at NASA have analyzed Earth’s surface temperature and determined that the 10 warmest years in the 135-year period of record are all since 2000, with the exception of 1998. Another analysis by NOAA scientists found that 2014 had the highest average combined global land and ocean surface temperature, at 1.24°F (0.69°C), above the 20th century average.
“This is the latest in a series of warm years, in a series of warm decades. 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,” Gavin Schmidt, director at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York, said in a statement.
Since 1880, the average surface temperature on Earth has increased by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit, which is largely attributed to the rise in carbon dioxide and other emissions due to human activities into the planet’s atmosphere. The majority of that warming has occurred in the past 30 years.
One of the remarkable things about last year’s heating record was that it occurred in a year without El Niño or La Niña, large-scale weather patterns that warm or cool the tropical Pacific. The last time an annual temperature record was broken with no warm-phase El Niño conditions present during the year was in 1990, according to NOAA.
“The record warmth was spread around the world,” while “temperatures were much cooler than average primarily across parts of the eastern half of the United States, part of the Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland, and coastal waters off the Southern tip of South America, with one localized region record cold for the year,” NOAA said, adding that regional differences in temperature are more strongly affected by weather dynamics than the global mean.
“The observed long-term warming trend and the ranking of 2014 as the warmest year on record reinforces the importance for NASA to study Earth as a complete system, and particularly to understand the role and impacts of human activity,” John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington, said in the statement.