For the most accurate weather measurements around the globe, the four most trusted sources are the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the UK’s Hadley Center, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These are the agencies that scientists consistently cite when discussing global climate change.
According to NOAA, 2014 saw global average temperatures over land and sea surfaces rise 0.69℃ above the 20th century average. This seems like a minuscule amount by itself, but it had noticeable effects all across the planet.
Europe, North Africa, China and Australia all suffered through major heat waves, as did the western coast of the United States. California, now in its fourth year of drought, experienced its own hottest year on record (2.3℃ above average). The Polar Vortex, however, ensured that the east coast suffered another winter with below average temperatures, prompting climate deniers in Washington to yet again deny global warming exists.
On the thermal map below, you can see New England’s unique position amongst the world’s general warming. But, as Thomas Karl, the director of NOAA’s Climatic Data Center, explained, “Every continent had some aspect of record high temperatures.”
“Any one year being a record warm one is not in itself particularly significant,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, “but this is one in a series of record warm years that are driven by the continuing underlying long-term global warming. We expect that heat records will continue to get broken – not everywhere and not every year – but increasingly, and that does not bode well for a civilization that is continuing to add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere at an increasing rate.”
NASA reports that, with the exception of 1998, “[t]he 10 warmest years in the instrumental record…have now occurred since 2000.”
Since 1880, the average surface temperature on Earth has climbed by about 0.8℃, “a trend,” NASA says, “that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere.”
The majority of that warming, records show, has come in the last three decades.
In an interview with the BBC, Schmidt said that the data from both NASA and NOAA shows a significant amount of warming is occurring in the oceans. “It shows very clearly that it has been the warmest year on record in the oceans,” said Schmidt, “but it wasn’t quite the warmest year in the land records but combined it did give us the warmest year.”
Speaking to The Guardian, Don Wuebbles, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois who has contributed to several IPCC reports, said the evidence of global warming is so beyond suspicion that arguing climate change is equally beyond comprehension.
“We have a clear signal that our climate changing, and when you look at the evidence it’s because of human activities,” he said. “The evidence is so strong I don’t know why we are arguing any more. It’s just crazy.”