Never mind the Polar Vortex that refrigerated large parts of the United States at its outset, 2014 ended up being the Earth’s hottest year since records began in 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, and NASA said in a joint announcement tonight.
The new findings will stoke fears that the rate of global warming is accelerating and the cause is humans pouring out emissions from fossil fuel burning as they put growth in prosperity ahead of the health of the planet. The rise in global temperatures last year notably happened without the influence of an El Niño in the Pacific Ocean, an occasional event that in the past has been linked with unusually warm periods.
According to NOAA which had its own methodology for sifting the data, the average temperature across both land and ocean surfaces was 1.24 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0.69 degrees Celsius, above the 20th century average, beating both previous record warm years, 2005 and 2010 by 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit.
In pictures: Changing climate around the world
In pictures: Changing climate around the world
Calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers are seen floating on the water in Qaqortoq, Greenland
Oroumieh, one of the biggest saltwater lakes on Earth, has shrunk more than 80 percent to 1,000 square kilometers in the past decade. It shrinks mainly because of climate change, expanded irrigation for surrounding farms and the damming of rivers that feed the body of water
A boat navigates among calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers in Qaqortoq, Greenland. Boats are a crucial mode of transportation in the country that has few roads. As cities like Miami, New York and other vulnerable spots around the world strategize about how to respond to climate change, many Greenlanders simply do what theyve always done: adapt. 'Were used to change, said Greenlander Pilu Neilsen. 'We learn to adapt to whatever comes. If all the glaciers melt, well just get more land
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is seen after being inaugurated in Longyearbyen, Norway. The 'doomsday' seed vault built to protect millions of food crops from climate change, wars and natural disasters opened deep within an Arctic mountain in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard
A technician preparing to drain a vast underground lake at the Tete Rousse glacier on the Mont Blanc Alpine mountain, to avert a potentially disatrous flood. Some 65,000 cubic metres (2.3 million cubic feet) of water have gathered in a cavity, dangerously raising the pressure beneath the mountain, a favourite spot for holiday makers in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
Cracked mud is picture at sunrise in the dried shores of Lake Gruyere affected by continuous drought near the western Switzerland village of Avry-devant-Pont. A leading climate scientist warned that Europe should take action over increasing drought and floods, stressing that some climate change trends were clear despite variations in predictions
Cattle graze on grassland that remains dry and brown at the height of the rainy season in south of Bakersfield, California. Its third straight year of unprecedented drought, California is experiencing its driest year on record, dating back 119 years, and dating back as far as 500 years, according to some scientists who study tree rings
An aerial view shows tents of flood-displaced people surrounded by water in southern Sehwan town. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres met with people displaced by last year's devastating floods. Catastrophic monsoon rains that swept through the country in 2010 and affected some 20 million people, destroyed 1.7 million homes and damaged 5.4 million acres of arable land
An aerial view of flooding in North Wagga Wagga. Climate change is amplifying risks from drought, floods, storm and rising seas, threatening all countries but small island states, poor nations and arid regions in particular, UN experts warned
Damages caused by a landslide on the Pan-American highway near La Moramulca, 55 Km south of Tegucigalpa. International highways have been washed out, villages isolated and thousands of families have lost homes and crops in a region that the United Nations has classified as one of the most affected by climate change
A resident sprays water on a peatland fire in Pekanbaru district in Riau province on Indonesia's Sumatra island. Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands, is one of the world's biggest carbon emitters because of rampant deforestation. US Secretary of State John Kerry Sunday issued a clarion call for nations to do to more to combat climate change, calling it 'the world's largest weapon of mass destruction'
An excavator clearing a peatland forest area for a palm oil plantations in Trumon subdistrict, Aceh province, on Indonesia's Sumatra island. As Southeast Asia's largest economy grows rapidly, swathes of biodiverse forests across the archipelago of 17,000 islands have been cleared to make way for paper and palm oil plantations, as well as for mining and agriculture. The destruction has ravaged biodiversity, placing animals such as orangutans and Sumatran tigers in danger of extinction, while also leading to the release of vast amounts of climate change-causing carbon dioxide
Stagnant rain water with tannery waste make the Hazaribagh area in Old Dhaka as well as Buriganga River the most polluted. Each year during the seven-month long dry season between October and April the Buriganga River becomes totally stagnant with its upstream region drying up and becoming polluted from toxic waste from city industries
Waste water from Dhaka city drained to the River Buriganga contributes to its pollutions. On the World Water Day observed in 2007 under the theme Coping with Water Scarcity, under the leadership of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, DrikNEWS explores some of the images of the river. UN-Water has identified coping with water scarcity as part of the strategic issues and priorities requiring joint UN action. The theme highlights the significance of cooperation and importance of an integrated approach to water resource management of water at international, national and local levels
Heavy smog has been lingering in northern and eastern parts of China, disturbing the traffic, worsening air pollution and forcing the closure of schools. China's Environment Ministry said it will send inspection teams to provinces and cities most seriously affected by smog to ensure rules on fighting air pollution are being enforced
Among places on the globe where the heat was in evidence included parts of interior South America, most of Europe and parts of North Africa, expanses of Russia as well much of Australia. Other climate agencies and research centres around the world have also identified 2014 as a record-breaking year.
“Every continent had some aspect of record high temperatures” in 2014, said Tom Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.
“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,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies.
He told reporters that “the data shows quite clearly that it’s the greenhouse gas trends that are responsible for the majority of the trends.” He went to assert that the trends in greenhouse gas emissions are continuing and therefore “we may anticipate further record highs in the years to come”.
Reacting swiftly to the new findings, the White House said they served as a reminder that climate change is a reality and that “we can’t wait to take action” to deal with it. The last time that NOAA said that Earth had set a record for cold was in 1911.
“The globe is warmer now than it has been in the last 100 years and more likely in at least 5,000 years,” said climate scientist Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University in New Jersey, who wasn't part of either research team. “Any wisps of doubt that human activities are at fault are now gone with the wind.”
“We are witnessing, before our eyes, the effect of human-caused climate change,” said Pennsylvania State University professor Michael Mann.
It remains to be seen if the latest reports will finally persuade the increasingly lonely band of climate change deniers to pay attention. Their ranks include Senator Jim Inhofe, a Republican Senator from Texas, who has just taken the chairmanship of the chambers Environment Committee.
The new heating of the planet was driven in particular last year by unusually warm oceans, where high-temperature were easily broken.
The struggle to reach a global accord to force countries to recognise the crisis and take action continues. In December, 200 countries will gather in Paris to try to hammer out a new global bargain. The US, which never signed the Kyoto Treaty and has been a general laggard, may have given the chances of success a boost when it announced a bilateral deal with China late last year jointly to take steps to curb emissions.Reuse content