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Was 2014 Really Hottest Year on Record? One Reporter Noticed Important Stat Mainstream Media Missed

Just 48 percent certainty...

Smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station in Colstrip, Mont., July 1, 2013. (Photo: AP/Matthew Brown)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials say it's more "unlikely than likely" that 2014 was the warmest year on record. It's an overlooked detail that was noticed by BuzzFeed's deputy news director Jon Passantino.

Coal Dark Future Smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station in Colstrip, Mont., Monday, July 1, 2013. President Barack Obama's climate change plan calls for limits on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants like the Colstrip Steam Electric Station. The plant, which employs 388 people, emits an estimated 17 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. (Photo: AP/Matthew Brown)

When asked whether 2014 was the warmest year so far on record, scientists within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it's "more unlikely than likely." In its annual "state of the climate" analysis, climate experts could say with only 48 percent certainty that 2014 was the warmest year on record.

However, scientists were 90.4 percent sure it was one of the five warmest years while they were nearly postive (99.2 percent) 2014 was one of the 10 warmest years. Meanwhile, there was no doubt that last year was one of the 20 warmest years on record, nor was there any question of 2014 being warmer than the average in the 20th century and warmer than the average from 1981- 2010:

  • Warmest year on record: 48 percent
  • One of the five warmest years: 90.4 percent
  • One of the 10 warmest years: 99.2 percent
  • One of the 20 warmest years: 100 percent
  • Warmer than the 20th century average: 100 percent
  • Warmer than the 1981-2010 average: 100 percent

Of those percentages, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's National Climatic Data Center gave descriptors that indicate the certainty of such predictions, with 33.3 percent to 50 percent (the degree of certainty with which scientists asserted 2014 was the warmest)  categorized as "more unlikely than likely."

Image source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

(H/T: @passantino)

Follow Jon Street (@JonStreet) on Twitter

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