UN’s meteorological agency says 2013 shaping up to be among hottest years on record
First nine months of 2013 tied with 2003 as seventh warmest on record
The World Meteorological Organization says the year 2013 is on course for becoming one of the top 10 warmest years on record.
The first nine months — from January to September — tied with 2003 as the seventh warmest period on record.
Those first nine months of 2013 have seen a global land and ocean surface temperature of about half a degree above the 1961-1960 average, the United Nations meteorological agency said.
“Temperatures so far this year are about the same as the average during 2001 to 2010, which was the warmest decade on record,” said WMO’s secretary-general Michel Jarraud in a Nov. 13 release.
“On record” refers to modern records that began in 1850.
“All of the warmest years have been since 1998 and this year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend,” Jarraud said. “The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998.”
WMO released its provisional climate status Nov. 13, during the UN climate change conference that got underway in Warsaw, Poland until Nov. 22.
The WMO said the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases also reached new highs in 2012, predicting they would reach unprecedented levels yet again in 2013.
“This means that we are committed to a warmer future,” Jarraud said.
The warmth in 2013 has so far been most extreme in Australia, although the WMO warns that surface temperatures are only part of the wider picture of a changing climate.
The WMO’s provisional outlook also confirms that global sea level reached a new record high.
Sea level has been rising at an average rate of about 3.2 millimetres per year since altimeter satellite measurements began in 1993.
And that is already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges, Jarraud said, pointing to the recent typhoon that devastated the Philippines.
“Sea levels will continue to rise because of melting ice caps and glaciers,” Jarraud said.
WMO says Arctic sea ice recovered slightly after the dramatic and unprecedented melt in 2012, but 2013 still saw one of the lowest levels on record.
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the Arctic reached its lowest sea ice extent in its annual cycle in mid-September at 5.10 million square kilometres— the sixth smallest on record.
But that was higher than the record low of the 3.41 million square km recorded in September 2012.
This past summer, lower-than-average atmospheric pressure brought cooler temperatures to much of the Arctic Ocean, while associated winds caused the ice cover to spread out and cover a larger area.