Hottest year fuels climate concerns
Last year was globally the hottest on record, climate experts have confirmed.
Two separate analyses by US government agencies National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Nasa both showed 2014 was the hottest in records dating back to 1880.
Global land and sea surface temperatures were 0.69C (1.24F) above 20th century averages, "easily breaking" the previous record years of 2005 and 2010, experts from NOAA's National Climatic Data Centre said.
Last year was also the 38th year in a row when annual global temperatures were above the long-term average, while n ine of the 10 warmest years since 1880 have all occurred in the 21st century.
Areas around the world experienced record temperatures, including most of Europe stretching into northern Africa, parts of eastern and western coastal Australia, and the western United States, the experts said.
Today's announcements mean that two of the three key international climate monitoring schemes have concluded 2014 was a record warm year.
Figures from the third, compiled by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU), are expected to be published at the end of January or early February.
The Met Office has already announced that 2014 was the hottest year for the UK in records dating back to 1910, and was also the warmest in the Central England Temperature series, the longest-running temperature record in the world dating back to 1659.
The latest figures prompted renewed calls for leaders to take action to tackle climate change, ahead of key United Nations talks in Paris in December where it is hoped a new global deal to tackle climate change can be agreed.
The Earth's average surface temperature has warmed by about 0.8C (1.4F) since 1998, a trend largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases caused by human activity, Nasa's Goddard institute for Space Studies (GISS) said.
GISS director Gavin Schmidt said: "This is the latest in a series of warm years, in a series of warm decades.
"While the ranking of individual years can be affected by chaotic weather patterns, the long-term trends are attributable to drivers of climate change that right now are dominated by human emissions of greenhouse gases."
Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, said: " 2014 wasn't just the hottest year on record but also the 38th year in a row with temperatures higher than the 20th century average.
"The world's climate scientists, in one of the most carefully compiled and reviewed documents in scientific history, claim that this trend is man-made, and that we're heading for a four or five degree increase this century unless we change course.
"It's time we stopped debating whether climate change is really happening, and focused people's energy, expertise, and ideas on finding the best ways to prevent it."
Emma Pinchbeck WWF-UK's head of climate and energy policy said: "While 2014 was a record-breaking year for troubling reasons - the warmest since records began - 2015 could be a year for the history books for all the right ones.
"There is still time to cut emissions and keep the rise in global temperature under 2C.
"This is the year for politicians in the UK and abroad to show leadership and to deliver the global agreements and national policy we need needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change"
Bob Ward, policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said: " No politician can afford to ignore this overwhelming scientific evidence or claim that global warming is a hoax.
" The record temperatures last year should focus the minds of governments across the world on the scale of the risks that climate change is creating, and the urgency of the action that is required, including an international agreement to strongly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to be reached at the United Nations climate change summit in Paris in December 2015."
Last year saw record high global sea surface temperatures, which were 0.57C (1.03F) above the 20th century average. Land surface temperatures were the fourth highest recorded, at 1C above average, NOAA said.
Six months of 2014 were also record breakers, with a record-warm December finishing off a year which also saw May, June, August, September and October experience new highs.
The new figures confirm expectations announced in early December to coincide with the latest round of UN climate change talks, that 2014 was on track to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, year on record.