Three separate data sets have now confirmed that 2014 was indeed the warmest year on record. On Friday, both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed the record. Moreover, another data set, made public last week by the Japan Meteorological Agency, also determined that 2014 was the warmest year on record.
Climatologists measure global temperatures using various methodologies, and most of the data showed that 2014 was only the warmest year by a relatively small margin.
In fact, not all sources rank 2014 as the warmest ever. The estimate of the lower atmosphere temperature from weather satellites produced by researchers at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, ranked 2014 as the third warmest year (behind both 1998 and 2010).
Warming trend continues
Nearly all scientists agree that the global warming trend is real, and the evidence continues to pile up. According to Climate Central, a New Jersey-based non-profit organization, 13 of the warmest years on record have occurred within last 15 years. They calculated that the probability of that many warm years occurring randomly is around 1 in 27 million.
Statements from climate scientists
Jonathan Overpeck, co-director, Institute of the Environment at Arizona State University, noted: “The global warmth of 2014 is just another reminder that the planet is warming and warming fast. Perhaps most remarkable is that this level of warmth was achieved without the expected large El Niño.”
“Humans, and their burning of fossil fuels, are dominating the Earth’s climate system like never before. Just as scary, perhaps, is the way record 2014 heat baked the drought parched Southwest U.S. and California, and in doing so, made the drought impacts worse than they would have been without human impacts on the climate system. 2014 was one for the record books in many ways, and it serves as a great illustration of what global warming is all about.”
Overpeck also highlighted that global warming is real and clearly still worsening. “The fact that NOAA rated 2014 as the warmest year on record should put to rest the bogus idea often espoused by climate change deniers that ‘global warming stopped in 1998.’ Based on the evidence, more than 97 percent of climate scientists have concluded that humans are primarily responsible for the warming of the planet to the record levels observed in 2014.”
According to Simon Donner, associate professor of climatology, University of British Columbia, “Climate change is already causing significant impacts to people and ecosystems, and these impacts will grow much more severe in the coming years. As we approach the critical negotiations in Paris in December to hammer out a new binding climate change treaty, we should keep in mind that we can choose to take economically sensible steps to lessen the damage of climate change, and the cost of inaction is much higher than the cost of action.”