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Global Warming Not Slowing Down, 2013 was Sixth Hottest on Record

Mar 24, 2014 03:15 PM EDT

Global temperatures in 2013 were the sixth warmest on record, the World Meteorological Organization reported Monday in its annual climate statement. The year was marked by a multitude of climate events and instances of extreme weather, including Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines, one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall, extreme heatwaves in the Southern Hemisphere, drought in Africa and southern China and record high sea levels.

The temperature record for last year ties 2007 as the sixth hottest year in recorded history, adding to the trend of overall warm years of late.

Thirteen of the 14 warmest years on record have occurred in the 21st century, and each of the last three decades has been warmer than the previous one, the United Nations-backed World Meteorological Organization said. The WMO is the UN system's voice on climate matters.

Temperatures in 2013 reached an average of 14.5°C (58.1°F), which is 0.50°C (0.90°F) above the 1961-1990 average and 0.03°C (0.05°F) higher than the 2001-2010 decadal average, the WMO said.

Periods of extreme heat were seen late last year in the Southern Hemisphere, with Australia having its hottest year on record and Argentina with its second hottest.

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said that man had a hand in creating a warmer wold last year, despite natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, or weather events such as El Niño and La Niña that have always shaped the state of the climate from year to year.

"But many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change," Jarraud said. "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."

Jarraud went on to point out that warming ocean temperatures are contributing to overall warming.

"More than 90 percent of the excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans," he said. "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."

The global temperature calculations are based on three independent datasets maintained by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US, and the Met Office Hadley Centre and the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, both in the United Kingdom.

An interactive map of 2013 climate events is available here.

A summary and copy of the full report are available on the World Meteorological Organization website.

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