Nine of the 10 warmest years since modern records began have occurred since 2000, according to a global temperature analysis at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.
2014′s record breaking warmth continues a long term trend of a warming climate. The global average temperature has increased about 0.8C since 1880 with most of that warming during the last three to four decades.
The scientists say the trend is largely driven by the increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide and other heat trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused by human emissions.
This video clip shows a time series of five-year global temperature averages, mapped from 1880 to 2014, as estimated by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York:
John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, says ranking 2014 as the warmest year on record reinforces the importance to study Earth as a complete system, and particularly to understand the impacts of human activity.
While 2014 temperatures continue the planet’s long-term warming trend, scientists still expect to see year-to-year fluctuations in average global temperature caused by phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña.
These weather events warm or cool the tropical Pacific and are thought to have played a role in the flattening of the long-term warming trend over the past 15 years. However, 2014′s record warmth occurred during an El Niño neutral year.
The latest analysis incorporates surface temperature measurements from 6,300 weather stations, ship and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations.
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