2014 confirmed as Earth’s warmest year on record

By Lee Jones

WASHINGTON, DC (BNO NEWS) -- The 12 months of 2014 were the warmest since record-keeping began in 1880, with global temperatures over land and ocean surfaces reaching 0.69 degree Celsius (1.24 degree Fahrenheit) above the average for the 20th century, U.S. weather officials said Friday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report Friday to outline its findings after analyzing the world's temperatures, which was corroborated by an independent study conducted by NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS). Both showed a clear, long-term difference between 20th century patterns and current findings.

The report released by NOAA records averages for land and sea temperatures, with an average of the two recorded for good measure. The latest data, for December, showed an average that is 1.39 degrees Fahrenheit (0.77 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average, and marks the third-warmest December on record. The findings bring year-long average to 1.24F (0.69C) above the 20th century average.

Scientists say climate change, or the recorded trend of climbing temperatures, will have profound impacts on the environment. According to NASA scientists and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), should current patterns continue, humanity can expect a notable increase in violent weather patterns, forest fires, and marine ecosystem extinctions.

"This is the latest in a series of warm years, in a series of warm decades," said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. "While the ranking of individual years can be affected by chaotic weather patterns, the long-term trends are attributable to drivers of climate change that right now are dominated by human emissions of greenhouse gases."

GISS said the 10 warmest year on record, with the exception of 1998, have all occurred since 2000. "This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet," the report said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, responding to Friday's report, said the matter of climate change is becoming increasingly urgent. "What's surprising is that anyone is surprised that 2014 was the hottest year on record," he said. "The science has been screaming at us for a long, long time."

"We're seeing higher than ever occurrences of extreme weather events like catastrophic droughts, storm surges and torrential rain. These events are having devastating economic, security and health impacts across the planet," the secretary added. "The question isn't the science. The question isn't the warning signs. The question is when and how the world will respond."

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