2014 is the Hottest Year in the Record, By Far

January 6, 2015

Joe Romm in ClimateProgress:

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has announced that 2014 was the hottest year in more than 120 years of record-keeping — by far. NOAA is expected to make a similar call in a couple of weeks and so is NASA.

As the JMA graph shows, there has been no “hiatus” or “pause” in warming. In fact, there has not even been a slowdown. Yes, in JMA’s ranking of hottest years, 1998 is in (a distant) second place — but 1998 was an outlier as the graph shows. In fact, 1998 was boosted above the trendline by an unusual super-El Niño. It is usually the combination of the underlying long-term warming trend and the regional El Niño warming pattern that leads to new global temperature records.

What makes setting the record for hottest year in 2014 doubly impressive is that it occurred despite the fact we’re still waiting for the start of El Niño. But this is what happens when a species keeps spewing record amounts of heat-trapping carbon pollution into the air, driving CO2 to levels in the air not seen for millions of years, when the planet was far hotter and sea levels tens of feet higher.

The JMA is a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Regional Climate Center of excellence. The WMO had announced a month ago that 2014 was on track to be hottest year on record. Different climate-tracking groups around the world use different data sets, so they can show different results for 2014 depending on how warm December turns out to be.

But in mid-December, NOAA said it’s all but certain 2014 will be a record setter. It released this figure showing that all plausible scenarios for December still leave last year as the hottest ever (click to enlarge):

 If you were wondering how 2014 could be the hottest year on record when it wasn’t particularly hot in the United States (if we ignore California and Alaska), NBC News has the story. It turns out there’s like a whole planet out there that has been getting very toasty:

Some of the hottest places in the world in 2014 included:

        • Europe was the hottest it’s been in 500 years. One new analysis concluded “global warming has made a temperature anomaly like the one observed in 2014 in Europe at least 80 times more likely.”
        • California had record-smashing heat, which helped create its “most severe drought in the last 1200 years.”
        • Australia broke heat records across the continent (for the second year running). Back in January, “temperatures soared higher than 120°F (49°C).”
        • Much of Siberia “defrosted in spring and early summer under temperatures more than 9°F (5°C) above its 1981 to 2010 average,” as Live Science noted. This is the second exceptionally hot summer in a row for the region, and scientists now think the huge crater discovered this year in the area “was probably caused by thawing permafrost.”
          The permafrost (soon to be renamed the permamelt) contains twice as much carbon as the entire atmosphere. If we don’t reverse emissions trends sharply and soon, then the carbon released from it this century alone could global warming as much as 1.5° F.

UPDATE: Chris Mooney in the Washington Post Wonkblog notes that the global warming “pause” meme is past its sellby date, as continued warming, even in a “cooler”, non-El Nino year, is a clear indicator that the warming continues.

Let’s first consider the “pause” notion itself. It went truly mainstream in 2013, when the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the first part of its much awaited Fifth Assessment Report.

In a poorly worded statement, a leaked draft of the IPCC’s report observed that the rate of global temperature increase, during the 15 year period from 1998 to 2012, was somewhat less than the rate of increase from 1951 to 2012. In other words, while the IPCC didn’t say the globe had stopped warming, it did suggest a situation that is a bit like a driver easing off the accelerator in a moving car.

This led to voluminous media coverage of the so-called “pause” and how much it allegedly undermined arguments about global warming — an analysis by Media Matters of coverage of the IPCC report release found that 41 percent of stories cited the “pause.”

But as it turned out, this was all much ado about nothing. The IPCC would later emphasize, in its finished report, that “trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends.” Moreover, many scientists observed that using 1998 as a beginning date in the first place is misleading, because 1998 was a super hot El Niño year, and thus a fairly dramatic anomaly for the 1990s (as you can see in the chart above).

The weakness of the “pause” argument is perfectly captured in this GIF from the website Skeptical Science, showing that you can still have global warming even if you have shorter periods during which temperatures don’t rise much:

In the end, then, the “pause” argument largely relies on the then-record temperatures of 1998 in order to create the impression that there’s been little or no global warming ever since.

 Zeenews India:

Paris: The year 2014 broke a series of heat records in France, Britain, Germany and Belgium, weather agencies reported on Monday.

In France, “2014 was the hottest year since 1900,” the Meteo-France weather agency said in a statement.

The country’s average annual temperature in 2014 was 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal, defined by the long-term average for 1981-2010.

The year 2014 dethroned 2011 as the previous warmest year, which was an average 1.1 C higher than the benchmark.

Meteo-France also pointed to records in Germany and Belgium, saying in both countries the average annual temperature in 2014 was 1.4 C higher than normal.

In Britain, provisional data showed 2014 was the country’s warmest year since 1910, according to the Met Office.

The mean temperature in 2014 was 9.9 C, 1.1 C above the 1981-2010 average or 0.2 degrees higher than the previous record of 2006, it said.

Eight of Britain’s top 10 warmest years have happened since 2002.

Fifteen of the hottest years in France since the start of the 20th century have been in the last 25 years, Meteo-France said.

“In Paris, the thermometer went below 0 C only on two days, compared to the usual 25-odd days of sub-zero temperatures per year,” it added.



2 Responses to “2014 is the Hottest Year in the Record, By Far”

  1. indy222 Says:

    It’s important that these publications be careful to state what their database is. We’ve seen how no including satellite data skews towards “hiatus”. What do we know about the Japan dataset? We’ve already panned the deniers for sloppiness in this regard; we want to not be subject to the same in reverse. That said, it doesn’ t surprise me a bit that we’re at a new record.

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