2013 7th warmest year on record for Earth, says NASA - Tucson News Now

2013 7th warmest year on record for Earth, says NASA

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NASA scientists released the 2013 temperature analysis and determined 2013 was the 7th warmest year since 1880.  

The numbers tied with years 2006 and 2009, with the warmest years on record 2005 and 2010. 

This is in contrast with the global temperature analysis done by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

NOAA says 2013 was the 4th warmers for the globe. 

Climate Central talked to Gavin Schmidt, a NASA climatologist, about why there is a difference in rankings.  

Schmidt said the agencies use different methods for analyzing temperature data, resulting in different rankings, but the numbers behind the rankings are within fractions of a degree of one another. 

Regardless of the exact number and how it compares to other recent warm years, both NOAA and NASA agree 9 out of the last 10 years were the warmest years on record since the late 1800s.  


According to NASA Earth Observatory, the maps below show data analyzed from around 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, along with "ship-based and satellite observations of sea surface temperature; and Antarctic research station measurements."

For more explanation of how the analysis works, read World of Change: Global Temperatures.

The top map (below) shows how much warmer or cooler areas of the planet were in 2013 as compared to an average temperature, which was calculated from 30 years of observations taken from 1951 to 1980.  

The bottom map (below) shows the decade-by-decade temperature trend. 

The orange-brown color on the bottom map indicates a more pronounced warming trend over the last 6 decades. 

Notice the darker color is in the Arctic Region, near the North Pole.

This indicates the area surrounding the North Pole is warming faster than many other locations on Earth.  


NASA Earth Observatory says "Regardless of the regional differences in any year, continued increases in greenhouse gas levels in Earth's atmosphere are driving a long-term rise in global temperatures. Each calendar year will not necessarily be warmer than the year before. But with the current level of greenhouse gas emissions, scientists expect each decade to be warmer than the previous one."

Numerous scientific studies show carbon dioxide is partly responsible for the warming.

It is simple physics that points to this gas as a contributor to warmer global temperatures.  

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the Earth's atmosphere.  

It is naturally occurring, but is also emitted by the burning of fossil fuels for energy.

Studies show the carbon dioxide levels are higher today than "at any time in the past 800,000 years" according to NASA Earth Observatory.  

The  graph below the maps (above) shows the long-term temperatures trend since 1950, along with how El Niño and La Niña measure up to the average. 

El Niño years tend to be warmer across the globe, while La Niña years tend to be cooler. 

But NASA Earth Observatory points out La Niña years are "warmer than they used to be."

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