The data is in, and it's official: 2014 was the hottest year in recorded history.
NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made the joint announcement Friday morning, relying on two separate analyses of the data to arrive at this startling new extreme of the long-term rise in global temperatures.
Despite a relatively cool year in the eastern U.S. -- anomalous to pretty much everywhere else -- global temperatures as a whole were 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit over the 20th century average, the scientists said. Particularly significant is the fact that they got that high without a boost from an El Niño, the weather pattern that helped elevate the previous warmest-ever years to their record status.
And make no mistake: this was part of a long-term trend. Nine of the ten hottest years, with 1998 as an exception, have occurred in the 21st century. If you were born after 1976, to put it in even starker terms, you have no idea what a cooler-than-average year even feels like.
Here, via NOAA, is what Earth’s surface temperature looked like from January through December of 2014:
“The fact that NOAA rated 2014 as the warmest year on record should put to rest the bogus idea often espoused by climate change deniers that ‘global warming stopped in 1998,’" Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at Weather Underground, and Bob Henson, author “The Thinking Person’s Guide to Climate Change,” told the Washington Post. "Based on the evidence, more than 97 percent of climate scientists have concluded that humans are primarily responsible for the warming of the planet to the record levels observed in 2014.”
This NASA video, which maps five-year global temperature averages from 1880, when record-keeping began, to the end of 2014, shows what that ongoing warming looks like: