Warming Earth heading for hottest year on record

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Warming Earth heading for hottest year on record
A woman sunbathes on the beach in Brighton on July 18, 2014, as parts of the country were expected to experience the hottest day of the year so far and the Met Office issued a heatwave alert for southern England and the Midlands. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA both agree that 2014 is the hottest year on record ever. Matt Sampson has the details.
A woman sunbathes in central London on July 18, 2014 as parts of the country were expected to experience the hottest day of the year so far and the Met Office issued a heatwave alert for southern England and the Midlands. AFP PHOTO/BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather on the beach in Brighton on July 18, 2014, as parts of the country were expected to experience the hottest day of the year so far and the Met Office issued a heatwave alert for southern England and the Midlands. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)
Fishermen choose a picturesque spot to cast their lines from the rocks at Seal Beach, California, as the sun prepares to set on June 28, 2014. Summer in California this year is expected to be the hottest and driest on record as nearly one-third of the state experiences 'exceptional' drought levels, the highest percentage ever recorded by the Drought Monitor, whch began monitoring in 2000, according to reports last week from the National Climatic Data Center. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A life guard keeps watch on the beach in Brighton on July 18, 2014, as parts of the country were expected to experience the hottest day of the year so far and the Met Office issued a heatwave alert for southern England and the Midlands. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)
A couple rest in the heat of the day in Sydney on January 6, 2015. Australia experienced its third-hottest year on record in 2014, paving the way for an early start to the bushfire season, scientists said on January 6 as hundreds of firefighters battled blazes in three states. AFP PHOTO / Peter PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 23: A general view of swimmers at Bondi Icebergs on May 23, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is experiencing it's hottest May on record, already recording it's hottest week for this time of year in over 150 years. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 23: A general view of swimmers at Bronte Beach on May 23, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is experiencing it's hottest May on record, already recording it's hottest week for this time of year in over 150 years. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 23: A general view of sunbathers at Bondi Beach on May 23, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is experiencing it's hottest May on record, already recording it's hottest week for this time of year in over 150 years. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 23: A general view of Bronte Beach on May 23, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is experiencing it's hottest May on record, already recording it's hottest week for this time of year in over 150 years. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 23: Children play in a pond on May 23, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is experiencing it's hottest May on record, already recording it's hottest week for this time of year in over 150 years. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
A fisherman sleeps on his boat as children swim behind him in a river to beat the summer heat in Manila on May 26, 2014. The Philippines has been experiencing the hottest days of the year with temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) recorded in parts of the city. AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
(NOAA)
(NOAA)
Sunspots (shown in white) vary across multi-year cycles, causing solar irradiance, which influences the Earth's climate, to also fluctuate.
Solar irradiance from sun spots (shown in white) was high at the turn of the century. It led climatologists to believe temperatures would keep rising.
High levels of irradiance from the sun spots (shown in white) continued through about 2001.
This chart shows dramatic spikes in solar irradiance across the 1980s and 1990s before leveling off for the previous 14 years.
The sun spots then all but vanished around the beginning of 2002 and have yet to return. Scientists believe that when they do, global warming will also resume.
This image provided by NASA shows a 'Blue Marble' image of the Earth taken from the The Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite or VIIRS instrument aboard NASA's most recently launched Earth-observing satellite - Suomi NPP. This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on Jan. 4, 2012. The NPP satellite was renamed 'Suomi NPP' on Jan. 24, 2012 to honor the late Verner E. Suomi of the University of Wisconsin. Suomi NPP is NASA's next Earth-observing research satellite. It is the first of a new generation of satellites that will observe many facets of our changing Earth. Suomi NPP is carrying five instruments on board. (AP Photo/NASA)
Volcanic eruptions, like this one August 13 at Mount Etna on the southern Italian island of Sicily near Catania, have also contributed to the slow down in global warming buy launching particulates into the air that further diluted the sun's rays.
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WASHINGTON (AP) - Earth is on pace to tie or even break the mark for the hottest year on record, federal meteorologists say.

That's because global heat records have kept falling in 2014, with September the latest example.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that last month the globe averaged 60.3 degrees Fahrenheit (15.72 degrees Celsius). That was the hottest September in 135 years of record keeping.

It was the fourth monthly record set this year, along with May, June and August.

NASA, which measures temperatures slightly differently, had already determined that September was record-warm.

The first nine months of 2014 have a global average temperature of 58.72 degrees (14.78 degrees Celsius), tying with 1998 for the warmest first nine months on record, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

"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.

September also marks the fifth month in a row that Earth's oceans broke monthly heat records, Blunden said.

The U.S. as a whole was warmer than normal for September, but the month was only the 25th warmest on record.

While parts of the U.S. Midwest, Russia and central Africa were slightly cool in September, it was especially hotter than normal in the U.S. West, Australia, Europe, northwestern Africa, central South America and parts of Asia. California and Nevada set records for the hottest September.

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."

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