2014 could be hottest on record – both in the UK and Globally

Wednesday 03rd Dec 2014 by theWeather Club

Image: Temperature records in England. (Source: Ed Hawkins, Reading University)

The WMO issued its provisional statement on the status of the climate in 2014 on 3rd December, stating that 2014 is likely to be one of the hottest, “if not the hottest”, years on record, largely due to record high sea surface temperatures.

Global average temperature over land and ocean surfaces for the entire period, January to October 2014, were the highest since records began in 1880. The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for this period was 0.57°C above the average of 14.0°C for 1961-1990.

The high temperatures have occurred in the absence of a full El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Although the sea surface temperatures increased almost to El Niño thresholds, there has been no atmospheric response. Latest reports indicate that there is nearly a 60% chance of a weak El Niño officially developing across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during the Northern Hemisphere winter – an update is due on 4th December.

If November and December maintain this trend, then 2014 will likely be the hottest on record, ahead of 2010, 2005 and 1998. This provisional information means that fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century.

Closer to home, this year the UK had the wettest winter in over 250 years, and the driest September and warmest Halloween on record and all months except August have been above average (though no single month has seen a temperature record). Provisional data from the Met Office also suggests autumn is likely to have been the third warmest on record.

The UK’s mean temperature from 1st January to 25th November was 1.6oC above the 1961-1990 average, making it currently the warmest since 1910. Unless December is exceptionally cold, 2014 will be the warmest on record – beating 1995, 2006, 1990 and 2011 – with England potentially having the hottest year in over 350 years.

In an interview with The Guardian, Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading and Royal Meteorological Society Fellow said, “Looking at the averages for central England between January and November, 2014 is far and away the warmest on record so far. Unless there is a relatively cool December, 2014 will be the warmest, as well as one of the wettest.” He also noted there is only a 25% chance that 2014 would not be the hottest year.

“2014 has been a warm year so far for much of Europe and the globe, and may end up being the warmest year on record globally. The long-term trend, especially since 1950, is at least partly due to human activity,” said Hawkins. “The signal of a warming climate is clearly visible even at the local [UK] scale where changes in climate are actually experienced, and this in one of the most climatically variable parts of the world.”

The WMO press release can be found here >> 

The Met Office press release can be found here >>