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The world’s weather forecast: hot and getting hotter

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Red Gum trees are iconic Australian trees that grow along the banks of the Murray River.

We heard it was coming. We have certainly felt it coming! And now we know. US scientists from NASA and NOAA confirmed today that 2014 is the hottest year since record keeping began 135 years ago.

The Japan Meteorological Agency made a similar announcement 10 days ago, and the UK’s Hadley Centre – one of the four global agencies who track global temperatures – has predicted the same but is still to release its figures. Global average temperature represents the average of land and ocean surface temperatures.

Samantha Smith, leader of the WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative says this comes as no surprise to the people around the world who experienced record heat waves, historic droughts and extreme weather events. Scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Centre said the earth’s average surface temperature has warned by about 0.8 degrees Celsius, a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere.

Warmer and warmer

The 10 warmest years since record keeping began – with the exception of 1998 – have now occurred in the last 14 years and this trend continues a long-term warming of the blue dot we call earth. And everyone is affected. Every continent had some aspect of record high temperatures, Thomas Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, told The Guardian.

Smith says what’s happening to the planet stands in sharp contrast to the glacial pace of global negotiations by governments to cut the causes of climate change – man-made CO2 emissions. We will continue to see climate records like this announced with more frequently if we do not act now.

The good news is that we can still come together to avoid the unthinkable. The bad news is that without urgent and more ambitious action, the poorest and most vulnerable will bear the brunt of the impacts, along with the world’s most precious natural areas and ecosystems.

WWF-US vice president for climate change Lou Leonard said the news is a clear and undeniable warning for all of us—nations, businesses, cities, and individuals—that we need to cut climate pollution and prepare for what’s coming. He says bold international action can help slow global temperature rise and give us a better chance of managing the changes we can’t avoid. “If governments miss this chance, the consequences will be far more disruptive for life on Earth, more costly for our economies, and much more dangerous for future generations.”

Check these pictures of extreme weather from around the world.
• Read the statement from NASA/NOAA here.
• Watch this NASA video on the announcement about the hottest year ever.
• Watch this interactive NASA video and see how the earth has warmed up over the decades.
• Read this summary by Climate Nexus, putting the hottest year ever in perspective.
• See where the hottest places on earth were in 2014, from livescience.com and The Guardian.

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