The data is in, and it’s official: 2014 was the hottest year in recorded history.
Despite a relatively cool year in the eastern U.S. — anomalous to pretty much everywhere else — global temperatures as a whole were 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit over the 20th century average, the scientists said. Particularly significant is the fact that they got that high without a boost from an El Niño, the weather pattern that helped elevate the previous warmest-ever years to their record status.
And make no mistake: this was part of a long-term trend. Nine of the ten hottest years, with 1998 as an exception, have occurred in the 21st century. If you were born after 1976, to put it in even starker terms, you have no idea what a cooler-than-average year even feels like.
Here, via NOAA, is what Earth’s surface temperature looked like from January through December of 2014: