It's official: 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded. According to data released on Monday by the Japan Meteorological Agency, 2014 not only was hotter overall than any year since it began recording data in 1891, it was also 0.48 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1981-2010 average. The ten hottest years ever have all occurred since 1998, while 14 of the 15 hottest years have all been since 2000.
According to Brian Kahn at Climate Central, record heat in parts of the Pacific as well as Europe were largely responsible, as well as extreme heat in Australia and California.
Climate Progress' Joe Romm analyzed the graph:
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.
We are still awaiting data analyses from three other research centers, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. Each program uses a slightly different method to interpret virtually the same data set, which could lead to slightly different rankings. Regardless, as Mashable's Andrew Freedman points out, 2014's temperatures were so high that 2014 should make at least the top five hottest years in each ranking.