A report released last week by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville finds 2014 was the hottest year on record. That’s based on temperatures measured since the year 1880. And it’s part of a trend of warming temperatures around the globe. Asheville resident and climate scientist Jessica Blunden led and coordinated the report. She says there’s no question what’s causing the warming.
Jessica Blunden: "Scientists have unequivocally connected the release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere to global warming. And we know that that's what's the cause right now... Right now the warmth is being driven by the release of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."
The report found the temperature of the oceans at a record high. The ocean absorbs greenhouse gases. And that’s also making the water more acidic and harmful to certain wildlife – especially species that rely on shells for protection. Blunden says the world will continue to warm if we don’t cut back on fossil fuels and move towards renewable energy. And we’ll start to see the impacts.
Blunden: "Things that we may see here in the mountains, native species, some of the plant species, may not adapt to climate change very well, whereas invasive species like kudzu do adapt very well and so we may see more immediate changes like that here in our area."
Meanwhile rising seas threaten North Carolina’s coastline. And ocean temperatures are at record highs as well, according to the report. Another alarming finding from the report was the record was broken during a year without an El Nino event, which leads to higher temperatures.
***You can hear the full interview with Jessica Blunden by clicking the audio above***