Heat: 2014 breaks global temperature records, 2015 could be hotter


Last year was the warmest year on record for the planet, analyses by NASA and NOAA show, and it’s possible that 2015 could be warmer still. 2014 was warmer than previous record holders 2005 and 2010, and comfortably ahead of 1998. 13 of the hottest 15 years on record have all occurred since 2000. Remarkably, 2014’s warmth was achieved without much assistance from an El Niño — which boosts global temperatures and is normally a factor in record setting years, as this graphic from Skeptical Science shows:

ENSO Temps static480

For more discussion of ENSO’s impact on temperatures, see Dana Nucitelli’s article at The Guardian, and Jim Hansen et al’s discussion here. Hansen warns that more warming could be on its way:

More warming is expected in coming years and decades as a result of Earth’s large energy imbalance, more energy coming in than going out, and with the help of even a mild El Niño 2015 may be significantly warmer than 2014.

The risk of further rapid rises in global temperatures could also be increased by early signs that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) may be shifting to its positive phase, as the Peter Hannam at the SMH pointed out late last year:

“During a positive PDO phase, you’d expect temperatures to keep climbing again as they did in the 1980s and 1990s,” Dr (Shayne) McGregor (of UNSW) said, adding that as PDOs are measured by rolling 11-year averages, it will be a while before any shift becomes clear.

In New Zealand, NIWA reports that the nationwide average temperature for 2014 was 12.8°C, 0.2°C above the 1981–2010 annual average, but that June was tied for warmest in the long term record. The MetService blog provides a good overview of regional weather here.

For further analysis and discussion, there is a lot of good coverage and supporting information available on the web. Here’s my pick of some of the best.

News coverage: New York Times (above the fold on the front page, no less), BBC, Guardian, Stuff (taking the AP coverage). Time makes the obvious point: warming continues unabated, which should give the lie to climate crank nonsense about no recent warming1.

Background analysis: the Climate Council in Australia (who created the graphic at the top of this post), a superb Bloomberg graphic, Climate Nexus, Climate Central (one and two), and for my favourite visual reminder of how warming has progressed, here’s NASA’s animation of global warming from 1880 to 2014:


  1. …but I won’t be holding my breath… []

20 thoughts on “Heat: 2014 breaks global temperature records, 2015 could be hotter”

  1. “The risk of further rapid rises in global temperatures could also be increased by early signs that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) may be shifting to its positive phase”

    Yes, the progress of the East Auckland Current off Northland over the latter part of 2014 is consistent with a spin-down of the South Pacific subtropical gyre circulation (i.e. the negative phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation [IPO]). The warm water was slow to arrive and now is much warmer-than-normal. http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/oisst/navy-anom-bb.gif

    Kerikeri locals report lots of yellowfin tuna, manta rays and turtles being spotted out wide. We had much the same thing through the 1980’s and 1990’s – when the IPO was last in its positive phase. Saw a few big turtles and unusual tropical fish when diving back then.

    The weaker-than-normal poleward transport of warm tropical surface water, which accompanies the weaker trade winds of the positive IPO, is likely to make for a cold winter here though.

  2. And I think we’ll be marking this as the beginning of the end for denial. Particularly since the ‘and this wasn’t even an El Niño year!’ message has been coming through loud and clear for anyone who has any capacity to pay attention.

    They’ll deny they’re dead-but-won’t-lie-down, of course, it’s what they do; but these clowns have been so daft they’ve even been running squawky alarmist campaigns about impending ice-ages. (Tactical stupidity in one’s enemies is quite the source of Schadenfreude!)

    The Denier Public Credibility rating, which peaked at no very impressive level with the ‘Climategate’ fraud in 2009 -and I’m not talking about the one you lot claimed to have identified – has been in steep decline ever since, and has now fallen below zero. Simply put, no-one who isn’t crazy already is buying this guff.

    As Gareth points out, the next El Niño will almost certainly produce a new record, and only the rusted on nutcases – which is what denial has been gradually worn down to – will still be shameless enough to bleat in public about conspiracies, and the sun, and volcanoes, and Force X, and Stadium Waves, and all the other semi-and-pseudo-and-anti-scientific ABC (Anything But CO2) drivel they’ve been wittering on about.

    Reality’s strong liberal bias has done you in; you’re dead, guys! It’s too much to hope you’ll have enough sense to STFU, but you really, really ought to, you know.

    (And we should be so lucky that some of you might even have the decency to try to atone for some of the damage you’ve done, but, yet again, the sound you’re not hearing is me holding my breath…)

    PS For starters, you owe Mike Mann, Al Gore, and Prof Lewandowsky – and many others – an apology, by the way, but, don’t worry, we all know you’ll never be big enough to make it, so no-one’s really expecting one.

    1. Bill, you are very optimistic about the denial machine. The American oil and coal companies are far from dead very and they are backed by the powerful US media, the business community and most of the political system. The USA, Australia, Canada and Russia are all big producers of oil and cola and are going to do all in their power to disrupt any attempts to curb their business activities. It has nothing to do with science and is all about money and power and influence.

    2. I hope you’re right about this marking the beginning of the end of the influence of scientific denial. And yes, the silly stadium wave nonsense had huge ‘exploding cigar’ written all over it.

      Rather than responding to new, or re-packaged, drivel from deniers, communicators need to constantly drag up the pause – just to remind punters that actual expertise does matter. Assuming the slower rate of surface warming has ended of course.

    3. Oh, sure, there’s no hope for the US – the massive failures of their plutocratic system mean that the rest of us will just get to look on and discover what happens when the biggest superpower the world has ever known begins to unravel under the weight of its own dysfunctional absurdity. Doubtless considerable unpleasantness awaits…

      And equally doubtlessly the Murdoch Empire will keep on furiously peddling anti-science, anti-environment shlock to suit their Glorious Leader’s purposes…

      But, as far as rational opinion goes, this is Denial’s Stalingrad, if you like (they sure won’t! 😉 Tough.) – sure, they may well continue to win some battles in the future, particularly as part of the descent of the US Empire, but the war is lost. And the smart money knows it.

      I mean, don’t the local deniers seem a little, um, subdued of late? It takes real hide, even for the rusted-on True Unbelievers, to stick their heads over the parapet and start regurgitating the sacred mantras! Talk about tossing out Hostages to Fortune! Even this small army of blustering, impervious Colonel Blimps are all too aware they’re only going to look like fools.

      Aptly enough.

  3. The hard core deniers will go on as loudly as ever, regardless of evidence, but they will become irrelevant. It is the vast majority of sane people that we need to be concerned about, and they will be looking at this years temperatures and starting to see the obvious.

  4. I am posting informative climate change comments on newspapers all over the world and although most right wing papers do not accept comments or have gone behind pay walls (thankfully) I manage to post on the UK Telegraph and a few in the USA. The level of ignorance and stereotype denial is extreme and if this is the view of the bulk of people there is no hope of turning the ship around.

    1. Ah, didn’t intend to leave that as a reply to Bob! Sure, dumb and noisy people are always scary – and, when capably manipulated by the ruthless, genuinely dreadful (see a history book!)

      But, outside of the US – where one half of their mainstream polity is now irrevocably committed to blatant crankery in both science and economics, and an idiot culture war – disagreeably large portions of the masses may well continue to be stampeded into stupidity for a short while, but there’s no real grass-roots support for Big Stoopid (in fact, they’ll most-likely only turn on them like they have on the contemptible Abbott), and thoughtful members of the elite (those that aren’t determined to run the planet into the ground to prove some imaginary point) are now saying to themselves ‘well, that’s that “debate” over, then’!

  5. I have close ties with Australians and I can feel the sense of dismay that they feel regarding this lunatic fringe Abbott government. They did vote them in but I suspect that it was Kevin s sabotage that did the damage.
    The opposition need a more charismatic leader and when he /she gets in they should break the power of the press barons.

  6. Yes I guess with Niagara Falls and the Great Lakes freezing over, it definitely means the planet is heating up catastrophically. The computer models prove it. Nature herself doesn’t know what she’s talking about. See here for yet more stunning proof of catastrophic manmade globull warming:



    You guys are right after all 😉

    1. It always amazes me that Americans look out of the window and see snow and assume that the whole country is like that. Don’t they have televisions? The south west is in the middle of a the worst drought for centuries and they have no idea it is happening.

  7. Hey, Joe, Willie Soon has just been outed as a paid shill for the fossil-fuel industry; what’s your excuse?

    But newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon’s work has been tied to funding he received from corporate interests.

    He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.

    The documents show that Dr. Soon, in correspondence with his corporate funders, described many of his scientific papers as “deliverables” that he completed in exchange for their money. He used the same term to describe testimony he prepared for Congress…

    Historians and sociologists of science say that since the tobacco wars of the 1960s, corporations trying to block legislation that hurts their interests have employed a strategy of creating the appearance of scientific doubt, usually with the help of ostensibly independent researchers who accept industry funding…

    Charles R. Alcock, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, acknowledged on Friday that Dr. Soon had violated the disclosure standards of some journals.

    “I think that’s inappropriate behavior,” Dr. Alcock said. “This frankly becomes a personnel matter, which we have to handle with Dr. Soon internally.”

    Dr. Soon is employed by the Smithsonian Institution, which jointly sponsors the astrophysics center with Harvard…

    Though often described on conservative news programs as a “Harvard astrophysicist,” Dr. Soon is not an astrophysicist and has never been employed by Harvard. He is a part-time employee of the Smithsonian Institution with a doctoral degree in aerospace engineering.

    Though he has little formal training in climatology, Dr. Soon has for years published papers trying to show that variations in the sun’s energy can explain most recent global warming. His thesis is that human activity has played a relatively small role in causing climate change.

    Many experts in the field say that Dr. Soon uses out-of-date data, publishes spurious correlations between solar output and climate indicators, and does not take account of the evidence implicating emissions from human behavior in climate change.

    Gavin A. Schmidt, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, a NASA division that studies climate change, said that the sun had probably accounted for no more than 10 percent of recent global warming and that greenhouse gases produced by human activity explained most of it.

    “The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless,” Dr. Schmidt said.


    1. I suspect we’re going to hear the word ‘deliverables’ rather a lot over the coming weeks. 😉

      I also suspect that the rump of denial – and ‘rump’ is right in so many ways – will become even more wary of exposing itself outside the bubble than it has been since the 2014 disaster …

      I mean, where global temp’s concerned, you did notice 2015’s been carrying on where 2014 left off, right, guys?

  8. Here’s Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned linguist and public intellectual, on climate change in a recent interview:

    The world that we’re creating for our grandchildren is grim.

    The level of species destruction in the world today is about at the level of sixty-five million years ago, when a huge asteroid hit the earth and had horrifying ecological effects. It ended the age of the dinosaurs; they were wiped out. It kind of left a little opening for small mammals, who began to develop, and ultimately us.

    The same thing is happening now, except that we’re the asteroid.

    What we’re doing to the environment is already creating conditions like those of sixty-five million years ago. Human civilization is tottering at the edge of this. The picture doesn’t look pretty.”


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