Temperatures were above average last year, and they may go even higher in 2014


Last year — 2013 — was one of the hottest years on record, so you can understand why Lavar Washington, Joshua Owens and Sean Williams jumped into the pool last July. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Never mind the current cold snap: Scientists report that 2013 was one of the 10 hottest years on record, and there is a good chance 2014 will be even warmer.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s calculations, 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 as the seventh-hottest year since global temperature record keeping began in 1880.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s slightly different calculations say 2013 tied with 2003 as the fourth-hottest year on record.

Researchers from both agencies said last week that regardless of how you slice the data, the trend is the same: Our planet appears to be getting warmer.

“While there is year-to-year variability and season-to-season variability, the long-term trends are very clear,” said Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

According to NASA, the average surface temperature in 2013 was 58.6 degrees, which is 1.1 degrees warmer than the mid-20th-century base line. That makes 2013 the 37th straight year that the annual global temperature was above average.

Tom Karl, director of NOAA’s Climatic Data Center, said the dramatic warming of our planet began in the late 1960s but has slowed over the past decade or so.

The scientists said 2014 is likely to be warmer than 2013 because they expect El Niño. Usually El Niño, a warming of the central Pacific Ocean, is responsible for boosting already warm years into the world’s hottest years.

Wire reports

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