The global temperature average has increased by 1.4 degrees F, which may not seem like a lot, but the effects of the increase are being seen and felt globally.
Droughts, wildfires, melting ice caps, and violent thunderstorms can be caused by heightened temperatures, and the wrath of these phenomena can be long lasting.
Water shortages in South America, raging wildfires in California, and shrinking glaciers in the Arctic are just some of the signs of the heat.
2014 saw record-breaking temperatures all over the world. In Europe alone, new record high temperatures were set in 14 countries, making 2014 the hottest year in Europe as a whole in history. Here, people sunbathe on the beach of Wannsee near to Berlin, July 20, 2014.
Heat prevailed elsewhere in the world, too. Here, a woman transports a drum after filling it with free drinking water supplied by a municipal corporation water tanker at a slum on a hot summer day in New Delhi, June 16, 2014. Periods of extreme temperatures have led to thousands of deaths since the 1990s, largely in rural areas where basic infrastructure is poor. In 2014, it was reported that up to 100 people were dying a day because of the heat.
And in Beijing, temperatures hit a record high of about 104 degrees F in May, the highest since 1951. The roasting conditions are exemplified by this man in an opened shirt walking along a street in Beijing, May 30, 2014.
And humans weren't the only ones feeling the heat. Here, an orangutan holds a paper bag over its head under the hot sun at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., September 4, 2014. After a mild summer, the nation's capital experienced a late season heat wave with temperatures up to about 90 degrees F.
Wildfires, which become more prevalent with drier and hotter conditions, have been among the most serious. Spain got its share, as shown by these small forest fires pictured between pine trees at night at Sierra de Tejeda nature park, on a burnt mountain from El Collado mountain pass in southern Spain on June 30, 2014.
California is another place that made headlines at various points in the year for its widespread and destructive wildfires. The smoke in this image is from a fire driven by fierce Santa Ana winds in Rancho Cucamonga, California, on April 30, 2014. The so-called Etiwanda Fire, a wind-driven brush fire burning out of control in drought-parched Southern California wildland, forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents in the northern part of suburban Rancho Cucamonga, officials said.
Less than a month later, the Talega Fire burns at Camp Pendleton, California, in this May 16, 2014, photo from the USMC. The Talega Fire is one of four fires at Camp Pendleton Marine Base north of San Diego that prompted evacuations of several outposts within the installation.
In Brazil, drought, high temperatures, and low humidity caused fires to start at several places in Brasilia, the country's capital, according to firefighters putting out the blazes. In this image, fire-fighters work to extinguish wildfires near the Sobradinho neighbourhood in Brasilia on September 12, 2014.
Drought was another crippling issue faced by many places around the world last year. Elsewhere in Brazil, a worker of SABESP, a Brazilian enterprise of Sao Paulo state that provides water and sewage services to residential, commercial, and industrial areas, stands next to water markers at Jaguari dam in Braganca Paulista, 100 km from Sao Paulo on January 31, 2014. The worst drought in 80 years left the Cantareira system, that provides greater Sao Paulo with most of its water, with the lowest water level on record, according to the state authorities.
And just behind the Jaguari dam, cars, which the police suspect were stolen and dumped in the nearby lake, appear on dry ground October 2, 2014, as the water dries up because of a prolonged drought. This year broke high temperature records in parts of Brazil, and the heat plus a severe drought has fanned fears of water shortages, crop damage, and higher electricity bills.
Droughts and shrinking reservoirs were seen elsewhere. Below, a man walks through the dried-up bed of a reservoir in Sanyuan county, Shaanxi province on July 30, 2014. Lingering droughts in most parts of China affected millions of hectares of agricultural crops, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said in 2014.
Australia was also hit badly with drought, and no wonder: The country endured its hottest two years on record in 2013 and 2014, according to the Climate Commission's most recent report. Average temps were 1.31 degrees C above normal. Below is an aerial view of small dams located north-west of the city of Melbourne, which have almost completely dried up.
Conditions had a serious impact on agriculture. Drought in Australia forced ranchers in the world's third-biggest beef exporter to cull cows, stoking fears of a global beef shortage in coming years with the U.S. herd at its lowest in six decades. Here, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (R) meets with outback graziers Phillip and Di Ridge of their property named 'Jandra' near Bourke in western New South Wales, February 16, 2014.
And livestock in other countries felt the burn, too. In this image, two men try to lift a horse dying from hunger at the El Rosario farm in Nicaragua, August 19, 2014. According to a recent report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, low rainfall linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon has led to drought in parts of Central America, causing widespread damage to crops, shortages and rising prices of food, and worsening hunger among the region's poor.
The Middle East also had its driest winter in several years, which affected global food prices, with local crops depleted and farmers' livelihoods blighted, UN experts and climatologists say. Varying degrees of drought hit almost two-thirds of the limited arable land across Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, and Iraq. Here, a boy shepherds camels near Al Karamah Dam in Shouneh March 7, 2014.
Drought wasn't limited to other countries, either. In this image, a buoy meant for boaters rests on the dry bed of Lake Mendocino, a key Mendocino County reservoir, in Ukiah, California, February 25, 2014. The reservoir got to as low as 10% of its capacity.
Things got so bad in California that people started spray-painting their lawns green. Below, Drew McClellan and his wife, Deb, paint green dye onto drought affected grass at a home in Santa Fe Springs, California, October 1, 2014. McClellan's small business took off as home owners preferred to dye their lawns green than face water restrictions and a rising water bill as California dealt with one of the worst droughts in its history.
Elsewhere in the US, mud flats sit where water used to be next to the Great Salt Lake Marina west of Salt Lake City, Utah, August 4, 2014. The Great Salt Lake water levels neared historic lows because of a prolonged drought in the area.
Another consequence of higher temperatures is more storms. Heat waves create favourable conditions for spawning violent thunderstorms, a fact Argentines learned well this summer, as tropical rain provided no relief from the extreme heat and humidity. Below, lightning strikes during a thunderstorm in Buenos Aires.
Even the world's coldest regions couldn't escape the heat. Rising global temperatures have been causing Arctic sea ice extent to decline since the 1970s. In 2014, the Arctic had its sixth-smallest sea ice extent during the ice's warmer melting season, and its fifth smallest extent during the colder growing season. When Arctic sea ice melts, more sunlight is able to hit the surface of the water, causing colourful blooms of phytoplankton like the one in this October 4, 2014, NASA image.
The diminished sea ice affects local wildlife and the entire ecosystem. Here, about 35,000 walruses hang out on a beach near Point Lay, Alaska, on October 1, 2014. The absence of adequate sea ice, which the walruses usually use a resting place in the cold Arctic waters, has driven them to the beach in search of other places to rest.
And closer to home, losses in Arctic sea ice are thought to weaken the polar vortex, which sends more cold air flowing to the US from the North. In early 2014, parts of the Midwest and the East Coast experienced unusually frigid temperatures, thanks to a destabilized polar vortex. Expect these kinds of frigid temperatures more often as the planet warms and the Arctic loses ice.
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