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2013 On Track to be Seventh Warmest Year Since 1850

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The world is on track to have its 7th warmest year on record in 2013, which is up from 2012, which was the globe’s 9th warmest year, according to a new report released on Wednesday. The report from the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva found that the January to September period tied with 2003 for the 7th warmest such period on record, with an average global surface temperature that was 0.86°F above the 1961-1990 average. In addition, global average sea level reached a record high this year, with an average rate of increase of 0.13 inches per year, which is double the observed 20th century rate.

Sea level is rising because of melting polar ice caps and warming ocean temperatures that cause the water to expand over time.

Global average surface temperature departures from average from different global datasets. Click image to enlarge. 
Credit: WMO.

The pace of sea level rise varies regionally. In some parts of the world, such as in Manila in the Philippines, sinking land combined with rising seas is creating coastal flooding concerns even in the absence of a major storm.

WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud pointed to sea level rise as a factor that makes coastal populations more vulnerable to the impacts from tropical cyclones, such as deadly Super Typhoon Haiyan, which was also known as Yolanda in the Philippines.

“Although individual tropical cyclones cannot be directly attributed to climate change, higher sea levels are already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges. We saw this with tragic consequences in the Philippines,” Jarraud said. For example, a recent study on coastal flooding of the world’s largest coastal cities found that Hong Kong has $60.7 billion sitting at or below the 100-year flood level. That study found that if no actions are taken to boost Hong Kong's flood defenses, coastal flooding could put $140 billion in infrastructure at risk if sea levels rise by 15.8 inches.

A recent report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that global average sea level is likely to rise anywhere from 10.2 to 38 inches by 2100, depending on the pace of greenhouse gas emissions and warming of the climate system.

The WMO report, which was released in Warsaw, Poland, where diplomats are meeting to forge a path forward toward a new global climate treaty in 2015, found that temperatures in 2013 are about the same as the average annual temperature during 2001-2010, which was the warmest decade on record.

“All of the warmest years have been since 1998 and this year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend,” Jirraud said. “The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998."

The increase in temperatures compared to 2012 likely has to do with the absence of La Niña conditions since April of last year, along with the effects of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. During a La Niña event, ocean temperatures in the equatorial tropical Pacific Ocean are cooler than average, which can work to hold down global average surface temperatures. 

Each of the past three decades has been among the warmest in the instrument record, and likely the Northern Hemisphere's warmest in more than 1,000 years. Click image to enlarge. 
Credit: Climate Central

In a separate report released on Nov. 6, the WMO found that the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main long-lived greenhouse gas responsible for manmade global warming, hit a record high in 2012 of 393.1 parts per million, or 141 percent of the pre-industrial level of 278 parts per million.

Largely as a result of all the extra CO2 and other greenhouse gases pumped into the air, worldwide average temperatures have already risen by 1.6°F between 1901-2012 and are projected to increase by between 0.54°F to 8.64°F by 2081-2100 compared to 1986-2005 levels, depending on the future amounts of greenhouse gases in the air, according to the IPCC.

The WMO report amounts to a status report of the global climate system, and it notes that Australia experienced the most unusually warm weather this year, while parts of North and South America, northern Africa, and much of Eurasia also saw warmer than average temperatures. Cooler-than-average temperatures were observed over parts of North America, central South America, and parts of northeastern Asia, among other areas.

Australia had its hottest month on record in January 2013, its hottest summer on record, and its 3rd-hottest winter. The country is also headed for its hottest year on record as well. During the country’s intense heat wave in January, Australia set a record for the hottest nationally-averaged maximum temperature, with a reading of 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to the report, the annual number of record high temperatures in Australia has doubled since 1960, with the past decade seeing the highest number on record during that time period.

Related Content
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Greenhouse Gases Have Soared to Record Levels: WMO
Climate Projections More Confident, Dire From IPCC
The 5 Most Sobering Charts From the IPCC Report
The Last Time CO2 Was This High, Humans Didn't Exist 
CO2 Emissions Expected to Rise Significantly By 2030
Global Carbon Emissions Hit Record High
Global CO2 Levels Set to Pass 400 ppm Milestone

Comments

By David Walsh
on November 14th, 2013

Sample size is 163 years out of 4,540,000,000 years….. Ok.

Reply to this comment

By James (Ireland)
on November 15th, 2013

Temperatures go up and down from year to year, but the Earth is warming over the long run.  http://clmtr.lt/cb/zH90AU

Reply to this comment

By will (concord nh 03301)
on January 2nd, 2014

Cute how these Warmists who hate fossil fuels take a trip to the Antarctic to show just how horrible fossil-fueled climate change is, then need rescue from their fossil-fueled trip by other fossil-fueled ships and helicopters, which still can’t rescue them,” wrote one blogger

“Somewhere far, far to the south where it is summer, a group of global warming scientists are trapped in the Antarctic ice,” read a post on the site. “If you missed the irony of that situation, it is because much of the mainstream media has glossed over that rather inconvenient bit of hilarity.”

So far, ice breakers have been unable to get closer than 10 miles from the stranded ship, which is surrounded by ice up to 10 feet thick. Stuck since Christmas Eve, it is about 100 nautical miles east of the French base Dumont D’Urville, and about 1,500 nautical miles south of Brisbane

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/12/30/stuck-in-our-own-experiment-leader-trapped-team-insists-polar-ice-is-melting/

Reply to this comment

By Robert Brennan (Somerville MA 02143)
on January 8th, 2014

Of course, the story of the stranded ship, if it is even in some way ironic, is certainly not scientific.  Even admist global warming there are goning to be cold days.  There may be an obesity epidemic in the US, but there are still going to be skinny people.  What is perhaps ironic, is the so-called “Warmists” on board were, indeed, actual scientists off to take measurements, which can go either way—in short what scientists do.  The deniers, not really scientists, but an incredibly small number of hired guns paid for by the fossil fuel industry to create the illusion of doubt are the ones who always know what conclusion they are going to reach, and not a single one has ever taken a measurement, collected an ice core, launced a weather balloon, etc.  Even the denier so-called scientists do not dispute that the earth is getting warmer (although the popular sense is that they do), although they may quibble a little about he measurements, they just argue about the causes and the meaning.  There is no question about the fact that the earth is getting warmer.  The charts in this article are accurate. 

There is also no meaningful difference of opinion among actual scientists; only a very small percentage express any doubt that human activity releases greenhouse gasses that causes global warming.  The tactics used by the fossil-fuel industry are a carbon copy of the strategies of the tobacco industry used to create the impression that there was a lack of agreement well after the point at which it was demonstrated with every degree of scientific certainty that smoking caused countless diseases including lung cancer.

It’s sad that the efforts to confuse and mislead people are so effective.  There’s no motive to hate fossil fuels (apart from the unfortunate effects on climate and pollution).  Wouldn’t it be great is we could make a fortune selling all that coal we have to China?  Poland is sitting on a vast supply of the really polluting sort of coal, they’d love to fuel the power plants of Europe, and most of those countries would rather deal with Poland than buy natural gas from Putin.  But look at the images of citizens wearing masks in Bejing and yet they keep opening more and more coal-fired power plants.  I visited Poland when they burned that coal for everything and buildings were covered in black suit.  And of the fossil fuels coal puts the most CO2 into the atmosphere.  And now we are learning about ways in which we are release methane, another powerful greenhouse gas, in much greater amounts than we thought.  Cutting back on greenhouse gasses is expensive and inconvenient, but it doesn’t change two facts.  One the earth has been getting consistently warmer.  No doubt about that, even the hired guns don’t seriously dispute that.  Two, greenhouse gases, largely released by burning fossil fuels are an element in a vast, complicated process that results in the warming nof the earth.  Paying a bunch of money to phony experts can’t change those facts, but it can seduce the gullible just as the tobacco industry proganda did decades ago.

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