The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA both say that 2014 was the warmest for the earth since 1880, the year when dependable temperature records began.
Their data matches those from at least two other weather agencies around the world.
“Clearly we didn’t feel that in Indiana, with our incredibly cold winter last year, but we were one of the few places in the world where we weren’t feeling the heat,” says Jeff Dukes, Purdue professor and director of the university’s Climate Change Research Center.
While Indiana, other parts of the Midwest, and some Eastern states were cooler than normal in 2014, Dukes says Alaska, California, Arizona and Nevada all had their warmest years on record.
Much of California has also been in a drought for the last three years.
“It’s the worst drought in 1,200 years in California, and they are not out of it yet,” Dukes says.
While 2014’s average global temperature was only marginally higher than previous record temperatures in 2005 and 2010, Dukes says that doesn’t necessarily mean there has been a “pause” in the rising of temperatures, as skeptics of global warming claim.
“The last 14 years, since 2001, every one of those years has been one of the top 15 warmest years on record,” Dukes says.
Other climate scientists, Dukes says, have used geological data to say that we may be in the warmest period for the earth in at least the last 2,000 years.
He says year-to-year temperature data will vary slightly because of El Niño and other weather phenomena.
But Dukes points out that the average global temperature has risen by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, with much of that warming coming in the last three decades, and he says while some believe warming in the atmosphere might have slowed over the past decade, ocean temperatures are warmer.
“The flip side of that means that probably when that ocean pattern flips back, we’re gonna see must faster warming,” Dukes says.
Global temperature data is taken from 6,300 surface weather stations around the world.