A new report says global temperatures in 2013 tied with 2003 as the fourth warmest on record since documentation began 1880.
The joint report, by the U.S. space agency NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says every year since 1976 temperatures were above average for the 20th century.
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In 2013, most areas of the world experienced above-average annual temperatures. Over land, parts of central Asia, western Ethiopia, eastern Tanzania and much of southern and western Australia had record warmth, along with sections of the Arctic Ocean, a large swath of the southwestern Pacific Ocean, parts of the central Pacific, and an area of the central Indian Ocean.
Thomas Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, says the climate picture played out in more extreme weather events.
“We saw for example, in Brazil, they had severe drought for the second consecutive year," he said. "In many ways it was probably the worst in the past 50 years. We had an early onset of the southwest Indian monsoon. And that was contributing to some of the worst flooding in the past half century, and there were many thousands of people killed."
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Only part of the central United States was cooler than average over land. Small regions scattered across the eastern Pacific Ocean and a region of the Southern Ocean south of South America were cooler than average. No region of the globe had record cold during 2013.
Gavin Schmidt, deputy director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says that despite seasonal and yearly variability, the annual report demonstrates world trends and helps get a better sense of what’s going on in the long-term.