WASHINGTON – Last year was tied for the fourth-warmest year on record around the world.
On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its global temperature figures for 2013. The average world temperature was 58.12 degrees (14.52 Celsius), tying 2013 with 2003 as the fourth-warmest year since 1880.
NASA, which calculates records in a different manner, ranked last year as the seventh warmest on record, with an average temperature of 58.3 degrees (14.6 Celsius).
Both agencies said nine of the 10 warmest years on record have happened in the 21st century. The hottest year was 2010.
The reports were released as a big snowstorm hit the U.S. East Coast.
“There are times such as today when we can have snow even in a globally warmed world,” said Gavin Schmidt, deputy director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York. “But the long term trends are not going to disappear … Quite frankly people have a very short memory when it comes to climate and weather.”
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 annual world temperature has increased by nearly 1.4 degrees (0.8 Celsius), according to NOAA data.
The world had 41 billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013, according to insurance firm Aon Benfield. Unlike 2012, much of the worst heat and disasters were outside the United States.
Nearly half of last year’s biggest weather disasters were in Asia and the Pacific region, including Typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 6,100 people and caused $13 billion in damage to the Philippines and Vietnam. Other costly weather disasters included $22 billion from central European flooding in June, $10 billion in damage from Typhoon Fitow in China and Japan, and a $10 billion drought in much of China.
For many people, global warming first hit the headlines in 1988 when NASA climate scientist James Hansen testified before Congress on a sweltering summer day. That year ended up the warmest on record at the time. On Tuesday, it was knocked out of the 20 top hottest years by 2013.