It’s happened again: new data from both NASA and NOAA show that, for the 355th month in a row, September 2014 was hotter than the 20th Century average for the month. Moreover, since September 2014 is the warmest on record, chances are further increased that 2014 will eclipse 2010 as the hottest year in recorded history.
NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) calculates that September 2014 was around 1.4°F higher than the 1951-1980 average temperature for the month, while NOAA’s National Climate Data Center (NCDC) similarly found that with an average temperature of 66.2°F, September was 1.3°F above the 20th Century average temperature for the month.
August 2014 was the hottest August on record, and at that time NCDC climatologist Jake Crouch cautioned that “If we continue a consistent departure from average for the rest of 2014, we will edge out 2010 as the warmest year on record.”
To explain this year’s high temperatures, Climate Central reports: “Ocean temperatures have played a large role in 2014’s warmth, including the warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean that have accompanied an emerging El Niño, Kevin Trenberth, a climatologist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told Climate Central in an email. The ocean is where some 90 percent of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases is stored.”
As usual, it’s not the individual months that matter greatly in understanding climate change, but rather the month-on-month, year-on-year trends that show a longer, broader view of earth’s warming. And these consecutive “hottest months” fit into just such a pattern, as do the recent cluster of “hottest years.” The five hottest years on record are, in order, 2010, 2005, 1998, 2013, and 2003 – and 2014 might just snag that top spot.
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