In Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that the average global surface temperature in 2013 tied with 2007 as the sixth-warmest year since such records began in 1850.
The land and sea surface temperatures for 2013 were 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1961 to 1990 baseline average; the 2013 global temperature was also 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit above the average temperature for the 2001 to 2010 decade, the warmest decade on record.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud stated of the findings, “The global temperature for the year 2013 is consistent with the long term warming trend. The rate of warming is not uniform but the underlying trend is undeniable. Given the record amounts of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, global temperatures will continue to rise for generations to come.”
Thirteen of the 14 warmest years have all occurred in the 21st century, showing a trend that has not slowed even through the global recession last decade and the continuing slow recovery.
“Our action, or inaction, to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases will shape the state of our planet for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” Jarraud added.
The report noted that while surface temperatures are a key indicator, it is only a fraction of the story; the oceans absorb 90 percent of the heat created by human activity.
2013 was a year without an El Niño or a La Niña event. El Niño typically increases global temperatures while La Niña typically cools temperatures. 2013 was the fourth warmest year on record which did not contain either of these events.
According to the press release the WMO analysis is based off of data from the Met Office Hadley Center and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center and NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS).
The full 2013 climate report will be released by the WMO in March 2014.