Another Top 10: 2013 was 4th warmest year globally

Image: NOAA

Here's more proof you can't see the whole planet outside your living room window in Minnesota.

While much of the United States ran cool in 2013, globally 2013 was the 4th warmest year on record. The news released today from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center confirms another analysis from the University of Alabama Huntsville.

Here's the 2013 global temperature map from NOAA. Note how Minnesota, the Midwest and central United States were among the coolest places on earth in 2013, even as most of the planet ran a fever.

CC 2013 temps globally
Image: NOAA

More details from NOAA. I've added bold text to what I feel are the most important facts.

Global Highlights

  • The year 2013 ties with 2003 as the fourth warmest year globally since records began in 1880. The annual global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F).

  • This marks the 37th consecutive year (since 1976) that the yearly global temperature was above average. Currently, the warmest year on record is 2010, which was 0.66°C (1.19°F) above average. Including 2013, 9 of the 10 warmest years in the 134-year period of record have occurred in the 21st century. Only one year during the 20th century—1998—was warmer than 2013.

  • Separately, the 2013 global average land surface temperature was 0.99°C (1.78°F) above the 20th century average of 8.5°C (47.3°F), the fourth highest annual value on record.The 2013 global average ocean temperature was 0.48°C (0.86°F) above the 20th Century average of 16.1°C (60.9°F) and tied with 2006 as the eighth highest annual temperature on record and the highest since 2010, the last time El Niño conditions were present in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. ENSO-neutral conditions were present in this region during all of 2013.

2013 Highlights

California recorded the driest year on record in 2013. In Australia it was the hottest year on record.

CC 2013 highlights
Image: NOAA

Another 'Top 10 warmest year' globally

The fact that 2013 came in as another top 10 warmest year globally is significant, even astounding. The fact that nine of the 10 warmest years globally have all occurred since 2002 is amazing, and highly improbable (if not impossible) in any "normal" climate system.

Here's an updated look at the top 10 warmest years globally.

CC top 10 years 2013
Image: NOAA

Last year also continued the string of 37 consecutive years warmer than the 20th century average globally. If you're 37 or younger, you've never lived through a cooler than average year globally. Younger than 29? You've never lived through a cooler than average month globally!

NASA confirms another top 10 year

Slight differences in data between NASA and NOAA means NASA puts 2013 in 7th place globally.

CC NASA NOAA 2013
Image: NASA

Weather Underground's Jeff Masters offers some perspective on why it's not a significant difference.

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."

Big Picture: Earth continues to run hot

Observations for 2013 show that the remarkable warming spike that kicked into high gear in 1998 is still going strong. Another top 10 warmest year globally is remarkably significant, and reinforces the now decadal trends toward a warmer global climate.

As 2014 unfolds, we continue to wait for a long overdue year cooler than the 20th century average. With the potential for a developing El Nino (warm phase) in the tropical Pacific later in 2014, I'm not holding my breath.

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