Our Hottest Year Yet

Trend Line

2014 set a new record:

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has announced that 2014 was the hottest year in more than 120 years of record-keeping — by far. NOAA is expected to make a similar call in a couple of weeks and so is NASA.

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.

Mooney adds important context:

[I]n a technical sense 2014 is just another year and just another data point. Despite the January ritual of tallying up each year’s temperatures and ranking it against prior years, what actually matters (as always) is the trend, not the individual year. But as we’ve seen, the global warming trend is intact — 2014 may just be an exclamation point on top of it.

Indeed, this year — 2015 – the temperatures of 2014 could take on major significance. After all, the world is now racing to complete a global climate agreement this December in Paris. A new temperature record for 2014 would surely light a fire under negotiators.

Meanwhile, there remains a 65 percent chance that we’ll see an El Niño — which could also help drive a new temperature record — in 2015.