2013: Earth's 4th Warmest Year on Record

By Dr. Jeff Masters
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Published: 8:26 PM GMT on January 21, 2014

Earth had another top-ten hottest year on record in 2013, which ranked as the 4th warmest year since records began in 1880, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center said today. NASA rated 2013 as the 7th warmest on record. The disagreement between the two data sets is minor, since the 2013 numbers were within 3% of each other. Including 2013, nine out of ten of the warmest years in the 134-year period of record have occurred during the 21st century (2001–2013). Only one year during the 20th century--1998--was warmer than 2013. Global land temperatures were the 4th warmest on record during 2013, and ocean temperatures were the 8th warmest. Global satellite-measured temperatures in the lower atmosphere were the 4th or 9th warmest in the 35-year record, according to UAH and RSS, respectively. Following the two wettest years on record (2010 and 2011), 2013 joined 2012 as having near-average precipitation on balance across the globe. A NASA press release issued today noted that "weather patterns always will cause fluctuations in average temperatures from year to year, but the continued increases in greenhouse gas levels in Earth's atmosphere are driving a long-term rise in global temperatures. Each successive year will not necessarily be warmer than the year before, but with the current level of greenhouse gas emissions, scientists expect each successive decade to be warmer than the previous. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat and plays a major role in controlling changes to Earth's climate. It occurs naturally and also is emitted by the burning of fossil fuels for energy. Driven by increasing man-made emissions, the level of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere presently is higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years."


Figure 1. Departure of global temperature from average for 2013. Australia had its warmest year on record, and portions of Indonesia, Central Asia, and East Africa were also record warm. The only land area cooler than average was in the Central U.S., and no parts of the globe were record cold. Image credit: NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.


Figure 2. Earth's top ten warmest years since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA and NASA. Image credit: NASA.


Figure 3. Earth's departure in temperature from a 1951 - 1980 average during the period 1880 - 2013, according to NOAA and NASA. Image credit: NASA.

NOVA show on Super Typhoon Haiyan: Wednesday at 9 pm
The PBS NOVA series is airing a show on Super Typhoon Haiyan called "Killer Typhoon", on Wednesday, January 22 at 9 pm ET on most PBS stations. I've had a chance to preview the episode, and thought it was well-done, with impressive storm surge footage and excellent graphics. Commentary is provided by hurricane experts Kerry Emanuel and Jeff Weber, storm surge expert Dr. Hal Needham, and the current head of the American Meteorological Society, Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd. Here's the web site for more info: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/killer-typhoon.html.

Jeff Masters

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About The Author
Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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2013: Earth's 4th Warmest Year on Record

Earth had another top-ten hottest year on record in 2013, which ranked as the 4th warmest year since records began in 1880, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center said today. NASA rated 2013 as the 7th warmest on record. The disagreement between the two data sets is minor, since the 2013 numbers were within 3% of each other. Including 2013, nine out of ten of the warmest years in the 134-year period of record have occurred during the 21st century (2001–2013). Only o...

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