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WMO: Record-warm year on target

Close race, but 2014 likely to finish No. 1 in global databases.

As we and others have reported, the globally averaged January-October temperature is in the books as the warmest such stretch on record.

We mention this because the World Meteorological Organization put out a news release Wednesday morning making that very point, just in case the folks at the world climate conference in Lima, Peru, missed it.

The release took note of "record-high greenhouse emissions" and record ocean temperatures, despite the absence of a full-blown warming event in the tropical Pacific.

While the wording in the lead was arguably overheated –it said 2014 was on pace "to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest" on record – the release did contain cautionary words about the numbers.

To wit: "It is important to note that differences in the rankings of the warmest years are a matter of only a few hundredths of a degree, and that different data sets show slightly different rankings."

The U.S. government's National Climatic Data Center, for example, had the January-October temperature at 1.224 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th Century average.

That was just 0.036 degrees above No. 2 on the list, 1998, and NCDC listed the margin of error as 0.2 degrees.

You'll also find slight differences among the global-data sets -- NCDC's; NASA's, and the Hadley Centre's, in England. But what they all have in common is that they show that temperature changes are slight.

Measuring the world's temperature is a complicated process; it's not like sticking a thermometer into a planetary mouth.

For an excellent discussion of the process and complications, we recommend this link on the NASA site.

While the world has been warming, keep in mind that this is not a spectator sport, and even though December is taking a warmer look across the country, we suspect winter isn't an endangered species – yet, at least.