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According to an announcement issued on January 16, 2015 by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2014 was the hottest year on record since we started tracking our planet’s temperature 135 years ago. With an average ocean and land surface temperature of 58.24°F, 2014 beat out the previous record holders of 2005 and 2010 by 0.07°F. Obviously that’s bad news since the hotter our planet becomes, the more perilous it is for habitation. But, that’s not the extent of the bad news though.
Not only was 2014 the hottest year on record, but the ten hottest years ever recorded are 1998 and later. In fact, for 38 straight years the earth’s temperature has been above the overall average for the 20th century. In addition, monthly heat records were set in 2014 for six months: May, June, August, September, October, and December.
Relative to the month of December, the highest anomalies were found in Siberia and Alaska. Temperatures averaged more than 9°F above the 1981-2010 average in some parts. The final month of 2014 also had the fifth highest land temperature average in the Northern Hemisphere, and the 10th highest in the Southern Hemisphere. A handful of areas, including pockets of southern Asia and Far East Russia, did record lower than average temperatures for December. However, the majority of the planet experienced a hotter-than-average month.
What about the U.S.?
Obviously, climate change and global warming impact the entire planet, but information is kept for individual countries as well. For the 18th consecutive year in the United States, for example, the nation’s average temperature was higher in 2014 than its 20th century average. Additionally, 2014 was recorded as only the 34th warmest year in the United States since recordkeeping began.
In the United States, the month of December was the second warmest ever recorded (1939 had the coldest December). With an average temperature of 37.1°F, December in the United States was 4.5°F warmer than the nation’s 20th century average. The higher temperatures impacted nearly every state, with nine states recording “top 10” months, and all of the Lower 48 states recording above average temperatures in December.
In Alaska, December 2014 was the fifth hottest recorded. The average temperature for the month exceeded the state’s 1971-2000 average by 8.1°F. In the cities of McGrath and Fairbanks, December was the hottest ever, and Anchorage had its second hottest December on record.
Even though the effects are more pronounced in some areas than others, global warming has an adverse impact on our entire planet. Since recordkeeping began in 1880, the global temperature has increased by 1.4°F. It may not sound like a lot but, according to NASA, “In the past, a one- to two-degree drop was all it took to plunge the Earth into the Little Ice Age.”
According to NASA, two-thirds of all global warming since the Industrial Revolution has happened since 1975. In their announcement, NASA explained that the warming trend can be greatly attributed to “the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere.”
Efforts are being made to reverse the trend on local, national and international fronts. However, the fact that 2014 was the hottest year on record shows that we still have a long way to go. You can do your part to help by contacting your state representatives and senators. Notify them of the announcement made by NASA and NOAA, and find out what they’re doing to combat global warming.