Last week headlines proclaimed that 2014 was the warmest year on record. This was based largely on temperature data released by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In fact, there is 38 percent chance that 2014 was warmer than 2010 or 2005 in the NOAA records. Even if 2014 was the warmest year, global mean temperature averaged only 0.04 degree Celsius higher than the average for those two years. It is true that the last decade was warmer than the 20th century average.
The Berkeley Earth group reported:
The global surface temperature'average (land and sea) for 2014 was nominally the warmest since the global instrumental record began in 1850; however, within the margin of error, it is tied with 2005 and 2010 and so we can't be certain it set a new record.
Now the Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit have released their temperature data and the conclusion is a more measured: 2014 one of the warmest years on record globally. From the Met Office:
Nominally this ranks 2014 as the joint warmest year in the record, tied with 2010, but the uncertainty ranges mean it's not possible to definitively say which of several recent years was the warmest.
Colin Morice, a climate monitoring scientist at the Met Office, said: "Uncertainties in the estimates of global temperature are larger than the differences between the warmest years. This limits what we can say about rankings of individual years.
"We can say with confidence that 2014 is one of ten warmest years in the series and that it adds to the set of near-record temperatures we have seen over the last two decades."
The folks over at the Global Warming Policy Foundation who are skeptical of climate model predictions of future catastrophic man-made warming noted:
With the release of the 2014 HadCRUT4 data by the UK Met Office, and the previous release of global temperature data by Berkeley Earth, Nasa and Noaa, the main conclusion to be drawn from the data is that 2014 was a warm year, but not statistically distinguishable from most of the years of the past decade or so meaning that the "pause" in global annual average surface temperatures continues. …
2014 fits in perfectly with the suggestion that for the past 18 years HadCRUT4 is best represented by a constant temperature.
In other words, it's hottish, but hasn't got a lot hotter lately.
The World Meterological Organization will issue its verdict on the rank of 2014 next week.