Was October 2014 The Warmest On Record? Maybe Not

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The numbers are in, and October 2014 has been declared the warmest on record, according to temperature data from NASA. But is it really the warmest October ever recorded?

NASA data shows that “October was 1.4°F above the 1951-1980 average they use as their baseline,” Climate Central reports. October 2014 tied October 2005 for the warmest since 1880 and was the third month in a row of record monthly average temperature anomalies reported by NASA and other agencies. “That keeps 2014 on track to be the hottest year on record,” reports Climate Central.

Satellite data, on the other hand, shows that October may not have been the warmest on record. Remote Sensing Systems, or RSS, satellite data shows that October was only the 9th warmest on record since 1979, when the satellite record began. But satellite data from the University of Alabama, Huntsville corroborates NASA’s data showing that October 2014 was indeed the warmest on record — though UAH’s data only measures from 1979 and not the late 19th century.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency also reported that October was the warmest on record, fueling claims that 2014 is on track to be the warmest year on record. Climate Central notes that “far eastern Siberia was an eye-popping 10°F above normal for October, but western Europe, northern Africa and western North America also saw temperatures up to 7°F hotter than average.”

So will 2014 be the warmest year on record? It depends on who you ask.

Dr. Roy Spencer, a climate scientists at UAH, predicts 2014 will not the warmest year on record. Spencer argues that surface temperature data is not a reliable measurement for global temperature anomalies.

“I claim 2014 won’t be the warmest global-average year on record,” Spencer wrote on his blog, “if for no other reason than this: thermometers cannot measure global averages — only satellites can.”

“The satellite instruments measure nearly every cubic kilometer — hell, every cubic inch — of the lower atmosphere on a daily basis. You can travel hundreds if not thousands of kilometers without finding a thermometer nearby,” Spencer writes.

Other scientists and meteorologists say that 2014 is on track to be the warmest year on record. In September, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated that if “2014 maintains this temperature departure from average for the remainder of the year, it will be the warmest year on record.”

NOAA says that October was the fourth warmest on record for the lower 48 U.S. states. Many states are expecting to see lots of snow ahead of Thanksgiving as a another so-called “polar vortex” makes its way south from the polar region.

According to AccuWeather, snow storms are set to pummel the northeastern U.S. and set record low temperatures in the southeast. The weather site says that the “arctic outbreak will not only be limited to the northern Plains, Midwest and Northeast, but will reach into the Deep South.”

“Record lows will be challenged on multiple occasions through midweek from eastern Texas to the Carolinas with lows near freezing along much of the Gulf Coast,” AccuWeather reports. “Parts of northern Florida may even have their first freeze of the season as lows dip down into the 20s in cities such as Jacksonville and Tallahassee. This could have impacts on some of the citrus plants across the Sunshine State as freezing temperatures can damage the fruit.”

(Thanks to Steven Goddard for providing the satellite dataset information to TheDCNF.)

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