2014 was the warmest on record, but reader beware

According to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2014 was the warmest year since the 1880's. Tough to believe that in Minnesota and much of the eastern U.S. considering it has been an extremely cool year. But many other locations on planet Earth had a far different result. This can be seen in maps that are produced by NASA and the National Weather Service (NWS). But BEWARE of what you are looking at because the internet is full of exceedingly misused climate data.

So we have all come to grips with the fact that information is absolutely everywhere and therefore MISinformation can spread like wildfire. A simple search on google, facebook, or twitter will bring up hundreds of images with the same headline "2014 was the warmest year on record," but will show you different maps and data, much of it often misused to exaggerate the truth. Just take a peek at the images below…

 

 

 

All 3 images were tweeted, facebooked, or thrown up on websites by one media source or another about this very topic over the last 24 hours. But they all look different don't they? While, the information given in these images is correct in their own right, they can send a much different message to the reader. It all stems around which climatological average was used in the making of the maps. So let me show you all 3 images again and I'll circle the pertinent information…

 

 

 

Now do you see why they are different? The first image uses the 30 year climatological average from 1981-2010, which is the current 30 year average that's used to determine where the climate stands. These are the same averages that you see on our weathercasts every night. The second image shows temperatures as compared to the 1951-1980 30 year climatological average. This gives you a bit more drastic of a result showing you a significant more amount of red and making you believe that things are warming faster and more drastically than in reality. The third image doesn't show the correct timeframe. While it appears to be right because it shows December 2014 on it, that's all it shows. This was the average for December 2014 only and NOT for the entire year. This would give you a much different picture than what occurred through the year. Very easy for us to note because we all know that Minnesota was NOT above average the whole year.

So the moral of this story: when it comes to climate, make sure the image you are looking at is the correct timeframe AND tells you what they are comparing the numbers to. A final example below shows you an image, but doesn't tell you anything about it. Likely just there to give an impression that the planet is warming. NOT reliable information without a key.