Weather Wednesday: 2014 Warmest Year on Record

Rick Atterberry EDEN Immediate Past Chair, writes about the weather.

Both NASA and NOAA last week announced that, globally, 2014 was the warmest year on record since data collection began in 1880.  A third data set from the Japan Meteorological Agency reached the same conclusion.  The average global temperature was 58.24 degrees, 1.24 degrees above NOAA’s 20th century average.

Those of us who live in the eastern half of the United States were in the largest inhabited part of the world with cooler than average temperatures.  Even at that, out west, California and Nevada had their hottest years on record and their drought conditions worsened considerably.

Yes, a climatological data set that dates only to 1880 represents just a fraction in time, but there is an irrefutable trend toward warmer global temperatures.   What it all means is beyond the scope of this blog entry, but there are immediate risks here in the United States including:

  • Increased morbidity due to heat stress
  • Wildfires
  • Water shortages
  • Extreme weather events
  • Sea level rise
  • Infrastructure damage

Long term we may be looking at changes in growing zones, crop regions and the availability of potable water in many large western cities.