The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC ) its Global Climate Report today, a summary of 2013’s temperature, precipitation, and other extreme weather events. It found that the world’s climate was certainly extreme—with 2013 ranking as the fourth-warmest year on record (tied with 2003)!
As we recap in our extreme weather timeline below, this year saw a range of catastrophic events—from Typhoon Haiyan causing more than 6,000 deaths in the Philippines, to severe drought in California, to raging wildfires in Prescott, Arizona. NCDC found that 2013 was the 37th consecutive year where the average annual global temperature was above the long-term average. And this December marks the 346th consecutive month with global average temperatures above the 20th-century average. In other words, no one younger than 29 has ever experienced a month where temperatures were at or below average.
Most troubling, scientists are increasingly making the connection between human-induced climate change and extreme weather events. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report found that it is very likely that human activities have contributed to the frequency and intensity of global temperature extremes since the middle of the 20th century. The report also finds that extreme precipitation is expected to increase with warming, and the probability of heat waves has likely increased substantially in some locations due to climate change.
WRI's extreme weather timeline for 2013 is by no means comprehensive, but is a reminder of the extreme events that have touched every community on the globe— their citizens, ecosystems, and infrastructure. Unless we change our carbon-intensive ways, some of the extreme events of 2012 and 2013 will no longer be considered so extreme, but rather, the new normal.
- TELL US YOUR STORY: Did we miss a major extreme event? Tell us about it in the comments section below. We may add it to the extreme weather timeline!