NOAA: 2013 Fourth Hottest Year on Record

Global temperatures 2013

The latest State of the Climate report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicates that the globally-averaged temperature for 2013 tied as the fourth warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880. The NOAA report also said 2013 ranks along with every previous year this century as among the 15 warmest years in the 134 year record. The top three hottest years on record are 2010, 2005 and, of course, 1998.

2013 fourth warmest year on record. Nine of ten of the warmest years have happened during this centuryThe average annual combined land and ocean surface temperature in 2013 was 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F). The average temperature globally for 2013 was 14.5°C (58.12°F) coming in as a tie with 2003 as the fourth warmest year on record.

2013 marked the 37th consecutive year with global average temperatures above the 20th century average. The last time any year recorded below average temperatures was in 1976. The rate of change for global average temperatures has increased 0.06°C (0.11°F per decade since 1880 with an average rate of 0.16°C (0.28°F per decade since 1970.

2013 saw its share of extreme weather events. While the U.S. as a whole saw a bit of a respite from extreme weather events, extreme flooding, tornadoes and wildfires continue to plague the west. Globally, 2013 saw $41 billion worth of weather disasters, according to a global insurance company.

Most parts of the globe experienced above average annual average temperatures, particularly western Ethiopia, eastern Tanzania and most of southern and western Australia, each documenting record-breaking heat. Record warmth was also recorded in sections of the Arctic Ocean, much of the southwestern Pacific Ocean,  parts of the Central Pacific and an area in the central Indian Ocean.

The average global ocean temperature in 2013 was 0.48°C (0.86°F) above the 20th century average of 16.1°C (60.9°F), tied with 2006 as the eighth warmest year on record for ocean temperatures.

NASA begs to differ, goes for seventh place

Using different data reconstructions for global mean surface temperature than NOAA, NASA reports 2013 as the seventh warmest year on record with an average temperature of 14.6°C (58.3°F) – though the hard number for average temperature was .1°C warmer than the NOAA figure. The point is that global warming continues. Both organizations conclude that nine of the ten warmest years on record have happened in the 21st century, with the hottest year being 2010.

Image credit: Andrea Della Adriano, courtesy flickr

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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