No El Nino, yet 2013 fourth warmest year: US climate agency
Last year, 2013, was tied with 2003 as the fourth warmest year since records began in 1880, according to the US government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For the 37th consecutive year, global temperatures were higher than the 20 thcentury average.
Using the same data but calculating slightly differently, NASA said that 2013 was tied for the seventh warmest year with 2006 and 2009. The difference between 4th place and 7th place is just two-hundredths of a degree. NASA had the "temperature anomaly" - how much the global temperature deviated from the average - pegged at 0.60°C and NOAA had 0.58°C.
"The long-term trends are very clear, they're not going to disappear, and people should be aware of that," Gavin Schmidt, Deputy Chief at NASA GISS, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday.
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.
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 Center. In the past 50 years, the world annual temperature has increased by nearly 1.4 degrees (0.8 degrees Celsius), according to NOAA data.
Regional analysis done by NOAA shows that most areas of the world experienced above-average annual temperatures. Over land, parts of central Asia, western Ethiopia, eastern Tanzania, and much of southern and western Australia were record warm, as were sections of the Arctic Ocean, a large swath of the southwestern Pacific Ocean along with parts of the central Pacific, and an area of the central Indian Ocean. Only part of the central United States was cooler than average over land. Small regions scattered across the eastern Pacific Ocean and an area in the Southern Ocean south of South America were cooler than average. No region of the globe was record cold during 2013.
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, AP reported. Since 2000, the world has averaged 28 such billion dollar disasters, which are adjusted for inflation.
Usually the weather event called El Nino, 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 Nino.
The fact that a year with no El Nino ""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, according to AP.