NASA released its global numbers yesterday — putting 2013 in a tie with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year on record. NASA records also go back to 1880. Although NASA scientists use a slightly different method for analyzing the temperature data, the differences in calculations are very small.
It’s official: 2013 is tied with 2003 as the fourth warmest year for Planet Earth since modern record-keeping began more than 130 years ago. The mean global temperature rose 1.12°F above the 20th century average. That means the 10 warmest years on record have all happened since 1998, with 2010 still on top as the warmest of all. The only year in the entire 20th century that was warmer than 2013, and the only one remaining in the top 10, was 1998. This also marks the 37th straight year where the global temperature was above the long-term average.
Even though the rate of warming may have slowed since the 1980s and 1990s, the NASA's records show the planet continues to heat up. It’s also worth noting that this year's global ranking came outside of an El Nino event, which tends to drive up global temperatures. The last El Nino happened in 2009-2010 and the last strong El Nino was 1997-1998.
The global number might seem at odds with what we’ve experienced here in the U.S. where the Central U.S. was one of the few land areas cooler than average. However, the 2013 average temperature in the lower 48 states was still above average, coming in as the 37th warmest on record. But when you open up to the global picture, large parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America were much warmer than average while Australia had its hottest year on record. Australia's temperature was 2.16°F above normal, beating the previous record set in 2005 by 0.31°F. Higher temperatures weren't limited to land either, large sections of the Atlantic and Indian oceans were also well above average.