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NASA and NOAA: 2014 Ranks as Warmest Year on Record Globally

Both NASA and NOAA reported that 2014 was the warmest year since global temperatures were first recorded in 1880. This year was also the 38th consecutive year that global temperatures were above average.

Greenhouse gas trends are responsible for a majority of the trends that we are seeing, said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Temperatures are 0.9 C above pre-industrial temperature averages.

"Trends in greenhouse gases are continuing, so we may anticipate further record highs in the years to come," Schmidt said.

Impacts from increasing temperatures are seen in a growing number of heat waves, rising sea levels, increasing intensity in precipitation, among other effects, Schmidt said.

Temperatures in 2014 were 1.24 F above the 20th century average, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Globally-averaged ocean temperatures were the highest on record and globally-averaged land temperatures were the fourth highest on record. When land and ocean averages were combined, 2014 was the warmest year in the past 136 years.

Some of the highest observed temperatures were in Europe and parts of the ocean, said Thomas Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

"Every continent had record highs," Karl said.

Denmark, Sweden, Finland, as well as parts of Australia and into areas of eastern Siberia and South America reached record temperatures, Karl added.

Some areas including areas of North America cooled, but this is "overwhelmed by the far greater proportion that was much warmer than average or record warms," Karl said.

Individual days had record lows, especially in the Midwest, but there were no notable record lows across seasons or consecutive months.

Some levels of the atmosphere are not following the same land and ocean trends, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

Sea-ice extents in the Arctic have continued on a downwards trend, reaching the sixth lowest in the record. The Antarctic was the highest sea-ice extent on record, which Schmidt said "was surprising given the warmth of the rest of the planet."

Michael Freilich, director of the Earth Science Division in NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said "Climate change is the major challenge of our generation."