Ocean and land temperatures in October were highest on record

A lone swimmer prepares to enter the surf at sunrise on Sydney's Bondi Beach
A lone swimmer prepares to enter the surf at sunrise on Sydney's Bondi Beach on Oct. 10, 2014.

Average combined land and ocean temperatures in October were the highest ever documented since 1880, the U.S. government said in a report released Thursday.

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The combined average for the month was 58.43 degrees Fahrenheit, which beat the record set in 2003 by 0.02 degrees, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The 20th-century average was 57.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The figures marked the 38th consecutive October with a global average temperature above the 20th-century average.

"It is becoming pretty clear that 2014 will end up as the warmest year on record," NOAA's Deke Arndt told reporters Thursday, according to NBC News. "The remaining question is by how much." A report released last month by the National Climatic Data Center reached the same conclusion. The temperatures from January through September 2014 tied with the highest period, previously reached in 1998.

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The extreme effects of climate change are already being felt on every continent and across the world’s oceans, according to an assessment released earlier this year by the United Nations. The global threat will continue to worsen if leaders don’t rein in the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. A major UN conference on climate change is scheduled to be held next year in Paris.

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Earlier this month, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on a climate deal to reduce carbon emissions and tackle the growing crisis of global climate change. The pact includes a first-ever commitment by the Asian country to stop its emissions from increasing entirely after 2030. 

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in New York City in September for the largest mobilization against climate change ever. Attendees from as far as Zimbabwe and the Philippines said they experienced the effects of climate change and pollution firsthand and demanded that global leaders take action to avert catastrophic climate change.