According to a new statement put out by the World Meteorological Organization, the conditions we're seeing around the world so far this year are putting us on track to be warmer than both 2011 and 2012, and will very likely put 2013 in the top ten warmest years on record.
The WMO examined temperatures from January through September of this year, and found that they fall roughly in-line with the average temperatures for that same time period, for 2001-2010 — the warmest decade on record. Regions like Australia, Alaska and the Canadian Arctic, northeastern South America, northern Africa and much of Eurasia experienced warmer-than-normal temperatures for the first nine months of the year. Some set records this year. Both Australia and Japan had their warmest summers on record, the state of Alaska recorded its 2nd warmest summer on record, and several European countries had summers in the top five hottest on record. On July 30th, Greenland recorded its highest temperature ever.
"All of the warmest years have been since 1998 and this year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend," Michel Jarraud, the Secretary-General of the WMO, said in a press release. "The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998."
In the north, the melt of Arctic sea ice over this summer wasn't as bad as the record-setting loss of ice in 2012. However, it was still the 6th lowest extent on record, and every year for the past 12 years has seen a minimum Arctic sea ice extend below the 1981-2010 average. In the south, the winter maximum extent of Antarctic sea ice was at record high for the second year running. This is typically offered as some kind of 'balm' for the news about low Arctic sea ice, but the increases in sea ice seen around Antarctica are due to melt water flowing off the continental glaciers. This fresh water floats on top of the ocean water and quickly freezes forming the record ice extent for winter, then completely melts away come summer. That results in an overall net loss of ice from the Antarctic.
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Although the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season didn't live up to initial projections, it still came in at 'average' levels, and the global average for cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons is coming in at very close to the 1981–2010 average. However, one of the most recent storms has made quite a mark on our collective consciousness, as Supertyphoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines, becoming the strongest storm to affect the nation and is quite possibly the most powerful storm ever recorded on the planet. There's no telling if climate change caused Haiyan, but it may very well have had its influences on the storm, driving its strength to levels it wouldn't have reached on its own.
All of this is due to the ever-increasing amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases we're pumping into the atmosphere.
"Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases reached new highs in 2012, and we expect them to reach unprecedented levels yet again in 2013," Jarraud said in the WMO press release. "This means that we are committed to a warmer future."
(Photo courtesy: Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)
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