NOAA: 2014 warmest year on record so far

Another month, another 2104 global monthly temperature record.

First, the warmest May ever recorded globally. Next, June. Then August. Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data for September show it was the warmest September on record globally, and that 2014 is the warmest year on record so far.

2014 warmest

Here are the details from NOAA's September 2014 State of the Climate report.

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  • The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for September 2014 was the highest on record for September, at 0.72°C (1.30°F) above the 20th century average of 15.0°C (59.0°F).

  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the January–September period (year-to-date) was 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.5°F), tying with 1998 as the warmest such period on record.

2014: The next warmest year on record?

So far 2014 is setting a familiar tone as the "new warmest year" on record.

AP's SethBorenstein and I presented separate talks at a Washington, D.C. climate workshop last month. Seth elaborates on why 2014 is turning heads in the climate world.

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"It's pretty likely" that 2014 will break the record for hottest year, said NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden.

The reason involves El Nino, a warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that affects weather worldwide. In 1998, the year started off super-hot because of an El Nino. But then that El Nino disappeared and temperatures moderated slightly toward the end of the year.

This year has no El Nino yet, but forecasts for the rest of the year show a strong chance that one will show up, and that weather will be warmer than normal, Blunden said.

If 2014 breaks the record for hottest year, that also should sound familiar: 1995, 1997, 1998, 2005 and 2010 all broke NOAA records for the hottest years since records started being kept in 1880.

"This is one of many indicators that climate change has not stopped and that it continues to be one of the most important issues facing humanity," said University of Illinois climate scientist Donald Wuebbles.

Some people, mostly non-scientists, have been claiming that the world has not warmed in 18 years, but "no one's told the globe that," Blunden said. She said NOAA records show no pause in warming.

The record-breaking heat goes back to the end of last year — November 2013 broke a record. So the 12 months from October 2013 to September 2014 are the hottest 12-month period on record, Blunden said. Earth hasn't set a monthly record for cold since December 1916, but all monthly heat record have been set after 1997.

Minnesota chill continues

Ironically, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest continues to be the coolest place on earth in 2014 relative to average.

See the big blue blob centered over Minnesota and the eastern U.S.? Much of Minnesota is running a good 2 degrees below average this year, while most of the globe is bathed in shades of red and bakes in the hottest year on record.

2014 MN cool

Even hotter in 2015?

You may have heard University of St. Thomas climate expert John Abraham and I discuss the prospects for this year being the warmest on record globally on last week's Climate Cast. John points out that if the long awaited El Nino develops this winter, it could carry over well into 2015, raising the chance that 2015 will be even warmer than 2014.

Weather Underground's Jeff Masters agrees.

If Earth sets a record for heat in 2014 it probably won't last, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director for the private firm Weather Underground. If there is an El Nino, Masters said, "next year could well bring Earth's hottest year on record, accompanied by unprecedented regional heat waves and droughts."

Stay tuned and buckle up folks. The next few months could be a wild ride into more record global temperature territory.