UK meteorological agency joins NASA, NOAA and Japanese forecasters in saying global temperatures hit records in 2014
By Sophie Yeo
The UK’s Met Office has announced that 2014 tied with 2010 as the hottest year since records began in 1850.
Temperatures across the globe reached 0.56C above the long term average (1961-1990).
Commenting on the tie between 2014 and 2010 in the new conclusions, Met Office climate monitoring scientist Colin Morice said: “Uncertainties in the estimates of global temperature are larger than the differences between the warmest years. This limits what we can say about rankings of individual years.
“We can say with confidence that 2014 is one of ten warmest years in the series and that it adds to the set of near-record temperatures we have seen over the last two decades.”
Earlier this month, US federal agencies NASA and NOAA named 2014 as the warmest year on record, based on their own data. The Japanese Meteorological Agency announced similar findings at the beginning of January.
Each organisation independently calculates global average temperatures using data from weather stations on every continent and across the ocean.
Global temperatures have been rising since the industrial era due to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
— NASA GISS (@NASAGISS) January 16, 2015
Scientists stressed there had been no “pause” in global warming, a favourite claim of climate sceptics, who point to a slowdown in temperature rise since 1998.
Bob Ward, policy and communications director at London’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, said: “These findings slay the myth promoted by climate change ‘sceptics’ that global warming has stopped.”
He added the results “should make it even more difficult for politicians, particularly the United States Congress, to deny the scientific evidence that the Earth’s temperature is rising in response to emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of oil, coal and gas”.
In a recent vote, almost half of US senators rejected the position of the UN’s top climate science panel that human activity significantly contributes to climate change.
According to NOAA, nine of the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century, with 1998 coming in at fourth place. Temperatures in 1998 were boosted by a strong El Niño weather system, which comes round every few years.
Phil Jones, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia, pointed out that the 2014 warm temperatures in the tropical Pacific had occurred “despite not being officially regarded as an El Niño”.
2014 also marks the 38th consecutive year that temperatures have been above the global long term average.
The statistics provide the backdrop for an important year in climate politics, with the UN set to agree a new international deal to reduce emissions at the end of 2015.
World Bank president Jim Kim told delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week that the new record provided another reason to take action on climate change.
“We are seeing the accelerated impact of climate change,” he said. “Last year was the hottest on record. That matters. Extreme weather is real. It’s a complete no brainer to move towards cleaner, more liveable cities.”