The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
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.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Mark Mancini
On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.
By Alex Schwartz
Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.
I’m a Psychotherapist – Here’s What I’ve Learned From Listening to Children Talk About Climate Change
By Caroline Hickman
Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?
For the past seven years, the Anishinaabe people have been facing the largest tar sands pipeline project in North America. We still are. In these dying moments of the fossil fuel industry, Water Protectors stand, prepared for yet another battle for the water, wild rice and future of all. We face Enbridge, the largest pipeline company in North America, and the third largest corporation in Canada. We face it unafraid and eyes wide open, for indeed we see the future.
By Mara Dolan
We see the effects of the climate crisis all around us in hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and rising sea levels, but our proximity to these things, and how deeply our lives are changed by them, are not the same for everyone. Frontline groups have been leading the fight for environmental and climate justice for centuries and understand the critical connections between the climate crisis and racial justice, economic justice, migrant justice, and gender justice. Our personal experiences with climate change are shaped by our experiences with race, gender, and class, as the climate crisis often intensifies these systems of oppression.