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| 01/22/15

2014 hottest year on record


Preliminary data from a global network of measurements provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggest that 2014 is the warmest year since records began in 1880 – and possibly the warmest in two millennia. While the margin is not huge, three of the hottest years on record have all been in the last decade.2014 was 0.04 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous record-holder, 2010, and 0.69 degrees Celsius warmer than the 20th century average. These latest numbers reinforce that not only is Planet Earth getting progressively warmer, but average global temperatures are now outstripping those seen historically, going back far into the past. How do we know this? Data are now collected globally via an extensive monitoring network of land and water surface temperature sensors, and the measurements are extended into the past using proxies that record temperatures at various sites including tree rings and ice and ocean cores.

As Stephen Hume points out in the Vancouver Sun, increasingly warm years have real economic and not just environmental, repercussions. The impacts of climate change on forestry, agriculture, hydrology, winter tourism, fisheries, and urban design—which collectively in BC contributes $44 billion annually to the economy—could be devastating. In the United States (US) for example, an estimated $1 billion was lost on ski slopes alone between 2000 and 2010 thanks to a reduced snowpack. BC’s ski resorts are facing the same problem. And with up to a metre of sea level rise projected by 2100, and continuing changes in rainfall and temperature patterns, the economic impacts are real. Having access to reliable data is a big part of managing climate change, “or the change will manage you”, as Hume says. But now with two US politicians and global-warming deniers, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, at the helm of the committees that respectively oversee NASA and NOAA, some analysts fear that access to those much needed monitoring data may become more elusive

In depth

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Climate news and analysis that's relevant for you, every week.