2014 breaks record for warmest year

Separate studies by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have demonstrated that 2014 was the warmest year on record since scientists began keeping records in 1880. According to the annual climate survey of the NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center,

A record warm December sealed the deal to make 2014 the warmest year across the world’s land and ocean surfaces since recordkeeping began in 1880. The average temperature for the year was 0.69°C (1.24°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F), beating the previous record warmth of 2010 and 2005 by 0.04°C (0.07°F).

NOAA also notes that 2014 marks the first time since 1990 that the glocal high temperature record was broken in the absence of El Niño, a condition that tends to produce higher than average temperatures around the world. La Niña years usually result in cooler conditions, but 2014 was neither an El Niño nor a La Niña year.

Gavin Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies at NASA noted in a press release that “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.”

While portions of the United States, especially the East Coast and Midwest, experienced cooler than average conditions, some regions in the west set all-time records for heat. The data that NASA and NOAA use to characterize climatic data rely on global averages rather than regional temperature dynamics, which is why a generally warming climate doesn’t necessarily lead to warmer conditions everywhere at all times. Scientists track global climate trends in a geographically and temporally averaged sense to arrive at long-term conclusions.

Interestingly, according to an article in the New York Times, the last time that global temperatures didn’t meet or exceed the 20th century average for a given month was February of 1985. This means that nobody under the age of 30 has ever experienced a below-average month, at least in a global sense.

Weather refers to the day-to-day changes in atmospheric conditions that we experience on a human time scale, while climate refers to those long-term conditions that take place over decades and centuries. Wind, which is an area of particular expertise for CPP, is local and weather-driven. Climate, according to NASA and NOAA, is being affected by air pollution, which is another topic CPP experts know quite a bit about. Our purpose is to ensure that buildings and structures can withstand the weather while minimizing harm to the climate.

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