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September 2014 is now the hottest on record, according to NASA

Credit: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Credit: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 5:31 PM - It's official. NASA records show that the month of September 2014 has now taken the top spot on the list of hottest Septembers on record.

According to records from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), September 2014 now ranks as the hottest month of September, in records going back to 1880. The month came in at 0.77 degrees C above the 30 year average recorded between 1951 and 1980. This displaces September 2005, which had ranked as number one - at 0.73 degrees above the average - and was also from the 2nd hottest year on record, according to GISS records.

As just these two years show, the differences between these records are quite small, on the order of a few hundredths of a degree Celsius. However, the differences themselves aren't as important as the overall trend they show. According to GISS records, 8 of the hottest Septembers on record have been in the last 10 years, with the remaining two from 2002 and 2003.


Also, the regions of the world that saw the biggest departure from those 'base' temperature levels is somewhat alarming. As the graph to the right shows, the absolute largest changes were recorded over and around Antarctica (on the far left of the graph) and over the Arctic (on the far right of the graph). Given that those regions are the Earth's 'coolant system', having those regions warming more (and possibly faster) than other parts of the world will have a big impact on our future climate. 

However, one important factor to note is, according to Gavin Schmidt, the director of Goddard Institute for Space Studies, it doesn't matter whether you include Antarctic data in the dataset or not, September 2014 comes out as the warmest September on record anyway.

This is now the third month of this year so far, along with May and August, that has ranked as the warmest on record across the globe - meaning that both land and ocean surface temperatures were taken into account. As pointed out by ClimateCentral.org's Andrea Thompson, when August 2014 took top spot as the hottest August on record, "Jake Crouch, an NCDC climatologist, said, 'if we continue a consistent departure from average for the rest of 2014, we will edge out 2010 as the warmest year on record.' For that to happen, each of the remaining months of the year would only have to rank among the top five warmest, he added."

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