2014 set to be hottest year on record, U.N. climate agency reports

Thousands had to be evacuated from flood-ravaged Obrenovac, Serbia, after catastrophic storms in May. Rising global temperatures are contributing to an increased incidence of severe weather, the U.N.'s climate agency says.
(Alexa Stankovic / AFP/Getty Images)

This year is on track to be the hottest on record, with rising sea surface temperatures linked to the spread of extreme weather events around the globe, the United Nations climate agency reported Wednesday.

The global average air and sea temperatures for the first 10 months of 2014 were 1.03 degrees Fahrenheit over the 1961-1990 average used by the World Meteorological Organization as a basis for charting climate change, the Geneva-based agency reported.

That is 0.16 of a degree above the average for the past 10 years and, if the warming trend continues through November and December, will make this year the hottest since record-keeping began in the 19th century.


“What we saw in 2014 is consistent with what we expect from a changing climate. Record-breaking heat combined with torrential rainfall and floods destroyed livelihoods and ruined lives,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the climate agency.

The provisional information for 2014 means that 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000, Jarraud added. “There is no standstill in global warming.”

The report galvanized negotiators from 190 countries gathered in Lima, Peru, for talks aimed at reaching a global emissions pact to be adopted next year, said Samantha Smith, head of the World Wildlife Fund’s global climate and energy initiative.

This is more scientific evidence of the real impact climate change is having on our world,” Smith said in a statement issued from Lima. “The changes will be felt the most by the most vulnerable people, whose lives and livelihoods are already being affected.”

The report from Geneva notes that the rising sea surface temperatures “contributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall and floods in many countries and extreme drought in others.” It cites catastrophic flooding this year in Britain, the Balkans, Russia, Turkey, France, Morocco, Japan and widely scattered areas of South America and the Asian subcontinent.

While those areas were struggling with the devastation of record rainfall, drought afflicted northeast China, Central America, the western United States and Australia, the report adds.


In another perplexing extreme, Arctic sea ice was reported to have diminished to the sixth-lowest level on record, while Antarctic sea ice expanded for the third straight year, the World Meteorological Organization said.

The climate analysis was compiled from data accumulated by Britain’s Meteorological Office and the University of East Anglia, as well as from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.

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