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2013: Sixth Warmest Year On Record

March 28, 2014

By Sinha, Kounteya

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LONDON - The year 2013 has now been confirmed to have been the sixth warmest year on record.

Thirteen of the fourteen warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century, and each of the last three decades has been warmer than the previous one, culminating with 2001-2010 as the warmest decade on record.

The average global land and ocean surface temperature in 2013 was 14.5 degrees C - 0.50 degrees C above the 1961-1990 average and 0.03 degrees C higher than the 2001-2010 decadal average. Temperatures in many parts of the southern hemisphere were especially warm, with Australia having its hottest year on record and Argentina it`s second hottest.

The year 2013 once again demonstrated the dramatic impact of droughts, heat waves, floods and tropical cyclones in all parts of the planet, according to the World Meteorological Organization`s Annual Statement on the Status of the Climate released late on Monday.

Scientists have predicted that in another 87 years, planet earth will be the warmest ever.

Scientists for the first time reconstructed Earth`s temperature history back to the end of the last Ice Age using data from 73 sites around the world and found that the planet today is warmer than it has been during 70 to 80% of the time over the last 11,300 years.

What was most worrying are projections of global temperature for the year 2100, when virtually every climate model evaluated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that temperatures will exceed the warmest temperatures during that 11,300-year period known as the Holocene - under all plausible greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

Highlighting the key climate events of 2013, WMO said Typhoon Haiyan was one of the strongest storms to ever make landfall, devastated parts of the central Philippines. Surface air temperatures over land in the Southern Hemisphere were very warm, with widespread heat waves; Australia saw record warmth for the year, Argentina its second warmest year and New Zealand it`s third warmest.

Frigid polar air plummeted into parts of Europe and the southeast United States while Angola, Botswana and Namibia were gripped by severe drought.

Heavy monsoon rains led to severe floods on the India-Nepal border besides causing devastation in northeast China and the eastern Russian Federation. Northeastern Brazil experienced its worst drought in the past 50 years while the widest tornado ever observed struck El Reno, Oklahoma in the US.

Extreme precipitation led to severe floods in Europe`s Alpine region and in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland while Israel, Jordan and Syria were struck by unprecedented snowfall. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere reached record highs and global oceans reached new record high sea levels.

The Antarctic sea ice extent also reached a record daily maximum in 2013.

"Naturally occurring phenomena such as volcanic eruptions or El Nino and La Nina events have always contributed to frame our climate, influenced temperatures or caused disasters like droughts and floods. But many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change. We saw heavier precipitation, more intense heat, and more damage from storm surges and coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise -- as Typhoon Haiyan so tragically demonstrated in the Philippines," said WMO secretary-general, Michel Jarraud.

"There is no standstill in global warming," said Jarraud. "The warming of our oceans has accelerated, and at lower depths. More than 90% of the excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans. Levels of these greenhouse gases are at record levels, meaning that our atmosphere and oceans will continue to warm for centuries to come. The laws of physics are non-negotiable."

IPCC has predicted that by the year 2100, glacial volume would decline by as much as 35-85%.

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(c) 2014 Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited

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Story image: Smoke is discharged from chimneys at a plant in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

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