Based on rising land and ocean temperatures, sea levels and greenhouse gases, 2014 was Earth’s warmest year on record, according to the State of the Climate in 2014 report released by the American Meteorological Society (AMS).
The report, compiled by NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at the National Centers for Environmental Information, provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice, and in space.
“This report represents data from around the globe, from hundreds of scientists and gives us a picture of what happened in 2014,” said Thomas R. Karl, director of NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information.
Many of the climate indicators reached record highs in 2014, including greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. For instance, atmospheric CO2 concentrations reached a global average of 397.2 ppm compared to only 354.0 in 1990 when the report was first published 25 years ago.
Temperatures also reached new records in 2014 as Europe and Mexico experienced their warmest year on record, Argentina and Uruguay each had their second warmest year on record, Australia saw its third warmest year on record and Africa had above-average temperatures on average. Eastern North America was the only major region to experience below average annual temperatures.
Sea surface temperatures were also a record high, and the warmth was particularly notable in the North Pacific Ocean. Global upper ocean heat content reached a record high for the year as the oceans continue to absorb over 90 per cent of Earth’s excess heat from greenhouse gas forcing. Global average sea level also rose to a record high, keeping pace with the 3.2 ± 0.4 mm per year trend in sea level growth observed over the past two decades.
While the Arctic continued to warm and sea extent remained low, the Antarctic showed highly variable temperature patterns and sea ice extent there reached a record high, making 2014 the third consecutive year of record maximum sea ice extent.
There were more tropical cyclones in 2014 than the average: 91 in 2014 compared to the 1981-2010 average of 82 storms.
“The variety of indicators shows us how our climate is changing, not just in temperature but from the depths of the oceans to the outer atmosphere,” said Karl.
Photo credit: Brendan Cox / Oxfam