The American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently released the State of the Climate in 2013 report. This annual, peer-reviewed report examines the changing state and behavior of the Earth’s physical climate system.And the news isn't great...
With the support of data collection and analysis by 425 scientists from 57 countries around the world, this latest report reflects the continuing trends of Planet Earth warming up. To track patterns, changes, and trends of the global climate system, several indicators were employed, including greenhouse gas levels, ocean heat content, sea level, glacier ice loss, permafrost temperatures, late spring Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent, and Antarctic sea ice extent. Here are some of the highlights from the report:
Greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise
The global daily average concentration of CO2 recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory (Hawaii) exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) in May 2013, for the first time since 1958. According to the report, ice core records show CO2 levels never exceeded 300ppm during the last 800,000 years until the early 20th century.
(Atmospheric CO2 concentrations for the past 800,000 years, with the 2013 annual average (dashed line). Graph by NOAA Climate.gov. Retrieved NOAA Climate.gov on July, 29,2014)
Sea level is also rising
In 2013, global average sea level was 1.5 inches above the 1993-2010 average, and it continues to rise at a rate of one-eighth of an inch per year. It is no doubt that the rising sea level will continue to impact coastal areas due to more frequent flooding, shoreline erosion and storm hazards. Currently, eight of the ten largest cities in the world are located near a coast. In the U.S., 40 percent of the population lives in relatively high population-density coastal areas. What's more is that the Boston Harbor levels are rising faster than the global average. Check out what Boston could look like if sea levels continue to rise.
(Change in global sea level over time. Graph from "State of the Climate in 2013" report. Retrieved from NOAA Climate.gov on July 29, 2014.)
There are more frequent and notable climate events and warmer days
2013 was a record-breaking year for extreme weather. Super Typhoon Haiyan had the highest wind speed ever assigned to a tropical cyclone, with wind speed estimate 196 miles/hr. Check out the timeline below from the World Resource Institute with records of extreme climate anomalies and events taken place in 2013. In addition to more notable extremes such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, and intense tropical cyclones, 2013 also ranked in the top 10 years for the frequency of warm days (despite the Arctic Vortex). Australia reported its warmest year on record since 1910 and 2013 also marked the warmest summer on record for several countries in East Asia.
Nowhere is experiencing these changes more dramatically than the Arctic, which continues to warm faster than the rest of the globe. Based on 2013 data, the Arctic air temperature is rising in all seasons, and most pronounced in autumn and winter. The report also indicates that 2001-2013 was approximately 1 degree Celsius (1.8F) warmer than 1981-2000 average in the Arctic.
(Change in global surface temperature over time. Graph from "State of the Climate in 2013" report. Retrieved from NOAA Climate.gov on July 29, 2014.)
Mountain glaciers are retreating
While observations for 2013 are still being analyzed, data from Austria, Canada, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, and the U.S. indicate that it is highly likely that the year 2013 will become the 24th year of worldwide mountain glaciers retreat. To date, mountain glaciers around the world have reportedly continued experiencing ice loss since 1980, and the rate of loss has accelerated in each of the past three decades.
Read here for more highlights and analysis of the report, compiled by NOAA Climate.gov.
Read full report.