“No challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does — 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.”
President Obama, January 20th, 2015
Climate science centers from all around the world have been chiming in over the past month confirming that 2014 was indeed the warmest year on record since we have been recording global annual temperatures. On January 16th, both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), confirmed 2014 as the hottest year as well. We are thrilled to bring you a “trip down memory lane” courtesy of NASA’s Laura Faye Tenenbaum, who helps us count off the 10 hottest years on record. This post first appeared on NASA’s Global Climate Change Website on January 22, 2015. With Laura’s permission we are reposting it here on ClimateMama.
The 10 warmest years: Not exactly forever ago
by Laura Faye Tenenbaum
In mid-January, 2015, NASA and NOAA announced that 2014 topped the list of hottest years ever recorded. Yikes!
What’s worse, the ten warmest years ever recorded have all occurred since 1998. Yikes again!
I fear this news story might turn into a blip that gets tons of attention and is then forgotten after a few days. But it’s a topic that deserves sustained attention.
So let’s look back at those years and remember what was going on then. What were we focused on during those record-breaking years? What were we doing? I encourage you to think about what was happening in your life.
Here are some of the top news events from the 10 warmest years on record. Although I did not specifically look for environmental or climate-related events, often the most notable event of that year did have a climate connection:
1. 2014 – The People’s Climate March
2. 2010 – The Gulf of Mexico oil spill
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill began on April 20, 2010. It lasted 87 days and spewed about 260 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean, making it the worst marine oil spill in history. Eleven people and countless marine animals were killed.
3. 2005 – Hurricane Katrina
4. 1998 – A massive El Niño
A massive El Niño occurred in the winter of 1997-1998, causing extremely wet and warm conditions across the southern third of the U.S. and extremely dry conditions in Indonesia and Australia. Severe weather events occurred across the globe, including intense rain and flooding in California and tornadoes in Florida.
5. 2013 – Super Typhoon HaiyanSuper Typhoon Haiyan, in November 2013, was the strongest typhoon ever recorded. It caused catastrophic destruction and devastation across Southeast Asia, especially in the Philippines.
6. 2003 – U.S. invasion into Iraq
The U.S. invasion into Iraq began on March 16, 2003 and dominated the news that year.
7. 2002 – Larsen B Ice Shelf shatters
Larsen B Ice Shelf The northern section of the Larsen B ice shelf, a large floating ice mass on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula, before it shattered and separated from the continent.
Photo Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory/National Snow and Ice Data Center
Between January 31 and April 13, 2002, nearly all of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in the Antarctic Peninsula disintegrated and collapsed. The ice shelf had been stable since the Holocene, but warmer ocean currents around Antarctica caused the 1,250-square-mile shelf to melt and break into the sea.
8. 2006 – Twitter launches
The social networking website Twitter was launched in July 2006. It presently has about half a billion users, including NASA satellites and rovers.
Laboratory tweetup Artist concept of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover with an illustrated astronaut bird.
Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
9. 2009 – The United Nations Climate Change Conference
The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Copenhagen December 7-18, 2009. The goal of the conference was to negotiate a deal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and hold the temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius, but participating nations failed to reach an agreement.
10. 2007 – First iPhone release Earth Now app
The point of this exercise is to say that we have to look at global warming as more than a bunch of numbers and dates on a page. The 10 warmest years have happened so recently that we can easily remember what was going on then. Even the 19- and 20-year-old college students I teach are old enough to remember what was happening and where they were in every one of those years.
Wow, is your mind as boggled as mine is? Share your thoughts in the comments (original post link here.) I look forward to reading them.
Laura Faye Tenenbaum is a science communicator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and teaches oceanography at Glendale,CA Community College.