Last year tied for the
fourth hottest year on record around the globe.
The average world
temperature was 14.51 degrees Celsius tying with 2003 for the fourth warmest since 1880, the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday.
At the same time, NASA,
which calculates records in a different manner, ranked last year as the seventh
warmest on record, with an average temperature of 14.61 degrees. The difference
is related to how the two agencies calculate temperatures in the Arctic and
other remote places and is based on differences that are in the hundredths of a
degree, scientists said.
Both agencies said nine of
the 10th warmest years on record have happened in the 21st century. The hottest
year was 2010, according to NOAA.
The reports were released
as a big snowstorm was hitting the US East Coast.
"There are times such
as today when we can have snow even in a globally warmed world," said
Gavin Schmidt, deputy director of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies in
New York. "But the long term trends are not going to disappear... Quite
frankly, people have a very short memory when it comes to climate and
Those longer trends show
the world has seen "fairly dramatic warming" since the 1960s with
"a smaller rate of warming over the last decade or so," said Thomas
Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Centre. In the past 50 years,
the world annual temperature has increased by nearly 1.4 degrees, according to
Unlike 2012, much of the
worst heat and biggest climate disasters last year were outside the US. Parts
of central Asia, central Africa and Australia were record warm. Only a few places,
including the central US, were cooler than normal last year.
Temperatures that were only
the 37th warmest for the nation last year. That followed the warmest year on
record for the US.
Last year, the world had 41
billion-dollar weather disasters, the second highest number behind only 2010,
according to insurance firm Aon Benfield, which tracks global disasters. Since
2000, the world has averaged 28 such billion dollar disasters, which are
adjusted for inflation.
Nearly half of last year's
biggest weather disasters were in Asia and the Pacific region, including
Typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 6 100 people and caused $13 billion in
damage to the Philippines and Vietnam. Other costly weather disasters included
$22 billion from central European flooding in June, $10 billion in damage from
Typhoon Fitow in China and Japan, and a $10 billion drought in much of China,
according to the insurance firm.
Usually the weather event
called El Niño, a warming of the central Pacific, is responsible for boosting
already warm years into the world's hottest years. But in 2013, there was no El Niño.
The fact that a year with
no El Niño "was so hot tells me that the climate really is shifting,"
said Andrew Dessler, a Texas A&M University climate scientist, who was not
part of either the NOAA or NASA teams.
For many people, global
warming first hit the headlines in 1988 when NASA climate scientist James
Hansen testified before Congress on a hot summer day. That year ended up the
warmest on record at the time. But on Tuesday, it was knocked out of the 20 top
hottest years by 2013.
Earth is warmer today, say scientists
Global warming has increased monthly