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2014 Was the Hottest Year on Record

Climate

Climate scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the 2014 global temperatures today, and the news they delivered is a blow to climate deniers who argue that climate change-driven global warming isn't happening.

The scientists revealed that 2014 was the hottest year in 134 years of record keeping, with seven of 12 months equalling or tying previous global records for that month. In addition, seven consecutive months set new records for surface ocean heat and December 2014 was the 358th consecutive month in which the combined global land and ocean surface temperatures was above average.

In the U.S. the past year was the 18th consecutive year in which the annual average temperature was above normal. And 13 of the 15 hottest years on record have occurred in the 21st century; the other two took place in 1997 and 1998, strong El Niño years. February 1985 was the last month where global temperature fell below the 20th century monthly average.

"When we have major El Niños, there is a redistribution of heat from ocean to the atmosphere, so when you have an El Niño event you have very warm conditions," said Thomas R. Karl, direcotr of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. "This year we did not have significant El Niño."

On a more local level, Alaska, Arizona, California and Nevada all had their hottest year since records were kept. Denmark and Sweden has their warmest years on record, and Finland had its second warmest. Parts of Australia and Eastern Siberia also saw their warmest years.

"People are always asking, why do we think this is going on," said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He said that they looked at multiple variables including volcanos, weather patterns such as El Niño land-use change and greenhouse gas emissions. Of the latter he said they found a correlation between increases in emissions and higher temperatures.

"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,” he said. "The trends are continuing so we anticipate further records."

In response to a question about whether the findings had caused the scientists to make any personal lifestyle changes, Schmidt said, "There are things that people can individually do—having better appliances, driving less, walking more, biking. I try. It’s a little bit tricky. The best effort we can make individually is to discuss the facts of these findings to try to help decision-makers understand that this is an issue that won’t go away, and I think we spend a lot of time doing that."

NASA and NOAA are two keepers of the world's temperature data and independently produce a record of Earth's surface temperatures, and changes based on historical observations over oceans and land. The Japan Meteorological Agency previously announced their warmest year on record; the UK Meteorological Association is expected to release numbers soon.

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Aerial view of Ruropolis, Para state, northen Brazil, on Sept. 6, 2019. Tthe world's biggest rainforest is under threat from wildfires and rampant deforestation. JOHANNES MYBURGH / AFP via Getty Images

By Kate Martyr

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest last month jumped to the highest level since records began in 2015, according to government data.

A total of 563 square kilometers (217.38 square miles) of the world's largest rainforest was destroyed in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to Brazil's space research agency.

From January to November this year an area almost the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was destroyed — an 83% overall increase in destruction when compared with the same period last year.

The figures were released on Friday by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and collected through the DETER database, which uses satellite images to monitor forest fires, forest destruction and other developments affecting the rainforest.

What's Behind the Rise?

Overall, deforestation in 2019 has jumped 30% compared to last year — 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3769 square miles) have been destroyed, despite deforestation usually slowing during November and December.

Environmental groups, researchers and activists blamed the policies of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro for the increase.

They say that Bolosonaro's calls for the Amazon to be developed and his weakening support for Ibama, the government's environmental agency, have led to loggers and ranchers feeling safer and braver in destroying the expansive rainforest.

His government hit back at these claims, pointing out that previous governments also cut budgets to environment agencies such as Ibama.

The report comes as Brazil came to loggerheads with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) over climate goals during the UN climate conference in Madrid.

AOSIS blasted Brazil, among other nations, for "a lack of ambition that also undermines ours."

Last month, a group of Brazilian lawyers called for Bolsonaro to be investigated by the International Criminal Court over his environmental policies.

Reposted with permission from DW.

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