Annual Climate Checkup Finds Warmer World

This week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the American Meteorological Society issued their annual climate report. The report, compiled by NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at the National Centers for Environmental Information, is based on contributions from 413 scientists from 58 countries around the world. Key highlights include:

Greenhouse gases continued to climb: Greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, continued to rise during 2014, reaching historic high values.

Record temperatures observed near the Earth’s surface: Four independent global datasets showed that 2014 was the warmest year on record. Europe experienced its warmest year on record, with more than 20 countries exceeding their previous records. Africa had above-average temperatures across most of the continent. Australia saw its third warmest year on record. Mexico had its warmest year on record, and Argentina and Uruguay each had their second warmest year on record. Eastern North America was the only major region to experience below-average annual temperatures.

Sea surface temperatures were record high: The globally averaged sea surface temperature was the highest on record. Globally, upper ocean heat content reached a record high for the year, reflecting the accumulation of thermal energy in the upper layer of the oceans. Oceans absorb over 90 percent of Earth’s excess heat from greenhouse gas forcing.

Global sea level was record high: Global average sea level rose to a record high in 2014. This keeps pace with the 3.2 ± 0.4 mm per year trend in sea level growth observed over the past two decades.

The Arctic continued to warm; sea ice extent remained low: The Arctic experienced its fourth warmest year since records began in the early 20th century. Arctic snow melt occurred 20-30 days earlier than the 1998-2010 average.

Tropical cyclones above average overall: There were 91 tropical cyclones in 2014, well above the 1981-2010 average of 82 storms. The 22 named storms in the Eastern/Central Pacific were the most to occur in the basin since 1992. Similar to 2013, the North Atlantic season was quieter than most years of the last two decades with respect to the number of storms.

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