2013 was joint 4th warmest year around the world on record: NOAA

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2014, 10:19am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2014, 10:28pm

Last year was the joint fourth hottest on record around the world.

The average world temperature was 14.52 degrees Celsius tying with 2003 for the fourth warmest since 1880, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

At the same time, Nasa, which calculates records in a different manner, ranked last year as the seventh warmest on record, with an average temperature of 14.6 degrees. The difference is related to how the two agencies calculate temperatures in the Arctic and other remote places .

Both agencies said nine of the 10 warmest years on record have happened in the 21st century. The hottest year was 2010, according to NOAA. The reports were released as a big snowstorm was hitting the US 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 showed the world had 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 Centre. In the past 50 years, the world annual temperature had increased by nearly 0.8 degrees, the NOAA said.

Last year, the world had 41 weather disasters that cost at least US$1 billion, the highest total after 2010, according to insurance firm Aon Benfield. Since 2000, the world has averaged 28 such disasters, with their costs adjusted for inflation.

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 US$13 billion in damage to the Philippines and Vietnam.

Other costly disasters included US$22 billion from central European flooding, US$10 billion in damage from Typhoon Fitow in China and Japan, and a US$10 billion drought in much of China, according to the insurance firm.