Jan 18, 2015 03:42 PM EST
For the third time this in a decade, the globe experienced the hottest year on record, according to federal scientists. And while 2014 may have been hot, 2015 may shape up to be even warmer.
Scientists from both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA calculated that in 2014 the world experienced its hottest year in the 135 total years since record-keeping began. The NOAA says that 2014 averaged 58.24 degrees Fahrenheit, or 14.58 degrees Celsius. This average was 1.24 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0.69 degrees Celsius, above the average for the twentieth century.
NASA, however, calculates the temperatures slightly differently, putting 2014's average temperature at 58.42 degrees Fahrenheit (14.68 degrees Celsius), which is 1.22 degrees (0.68 degrees Celsius) above the average of the years 1951-1980.
The high temperatures on Earth broke the previous NOAA records of 2010 and 2005, while the last time the Earth set an annual NOAA record for cold weather was back in 1911. Proof that the world is heating up? Researchers seem to think so.
"The globe is warmer now than it has been in the last 100 years and more likely in at least 5,000 years," said climate scientist Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, who wasn't part of either research team. "Any wisps of doubt that human activities are at fault are now gone with the wind."
The heat over the past year was driven by record warmth in the world's oceans, shattering the previous records. Record warmth was recorded worldwide across Russian, the western United States, South America, much of Europe, northern Africa and parts of Australia.
"Every continent had some aspect of record high temperatures" in 2014, says Tom Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.
Climate scientists say one of the most significant parts of the record for 2014 is that it occurred with no El Niño weather oscillation. During an El Niño, water in the central Pacific warms and influences weather patterns worldwide.
Temperatures have risen by about 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) since the mid-19th century and pre-industrial times, says Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, where the space agency tracks the warming temperatures.
Schmidt says that temperatures will continue to rise with year-to-year variations and he wouldn't be surprised if 2015 breaks 2014's record: "The increase in greenhouse gases is unrelenting and that in the end is going to dominate most things going on."
"We are witnessing, before our eyes, the effect of human-caused climate change."
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