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Climate Records Shattered in 2013
| Surface temperatures in 2013 compared to average temperatures since 1981.
Credit: NOAA map by Dan Pisut, NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab
If global warming could be compared to middle-age weight gain, then Earth is growing a boomer belly, according to a newly released report on the state of the global climate.
Climate data show that global temperatures in 2013 continued their long-term rising trend. In fact, 2013 was somewhere between the second- and sixth-hottest year on record for the planet since record keeping began in 1880, according to the climate report, released Thursday (July 17) by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). (Four groups of scientists, who rely on slightly different methods to calculate global surface temperatures, ranked 2013 slightly differently compared with other years.)
The annual State of the Climate report compiles climate and weather data from around the world and is reviewed by 425 climate scientists from 57 countries. The report can be viewed online. “You can think of it as an annual checkup on the planet,” said Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA administrator.
And the checkup results show the planet ranged well outside of normal levels in 2013, hitting new records for greenhouse gases, Arctic heat, warm ocean temperatures and rising sea levels.
“The climate is changing more rapidly in today’s world than at any time in modern civilization,” said Thomas Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. “If we look at it like we’re trying to maintain an ideal weight, then we’re continuing to see ourselves put more weight on from year to year,” he said.
Climate scientists blame rising levels of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere for the planet’s changing climate. The levels of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii hit 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 2013. The worldwide average reached 395.3 ppm, a 2.8 ppm increase from 2012, NOAA reports. (Parts per million denotes the volume of a gas in the air; in this case, for every 1 million air molecules, 400 are carbon dioxide.) [In Images: Extreme Weather Around the World]
“The major greenhouse gases all reached new record high values in 2013,” said Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist with ERT, Inc., and a NOAA contractor who helped write the report.
Most parts of the planet experienced above-average annual temperatures in 2013, NOAA officials said. Australia experienced its warmest year on record, while Argentina had its second warmest and New Zealand its third warmest. There was a new high-temperature record set at the South Pole, of minus 53 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 47 degrees Celsius).
Here are the highlights from the report:
- Sea level continued rising: Boosted by warm Pacific Ocean temperatures (which causes water to expand) and melting ice sheets, sea level rose 0.15 inches (3.8 millimeters), on par with the long-term trend of 0.13 inches (3.2 mm) per year over the past 20 years.
- Antarctic sea ice hit another record high: On October 1, Antarctic sea ice covered 7.56 million square miles (19.5 million square kilometers). This beats the old record set in 2012 by 0.7 percent. However, even though the Antarctic sea ice is growing, the continent’s land-based glaciers continued to melt and shrink.
- Arctic sea ice low: The Arctic sea ice extent was the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. The sea ice extent is declining by about 14 percent per decade.
- Extreme weather: Deadly Super Typhoon Haiyan had the highest wind speed ever recorded for a tropical cyclone, with one-minute sustained winds reaching 196 mph (315 km/h). Flooding in central Europe caused billions of dollars in damage and killed 24 people.
- Melting permafrost: For the second year in a row, record high temperatures were measured in permafrost on the North Slope of Alaska and in the Brooks Range. Permafrost is frozen ground underneath the Earth’s surface. The temperatures were recorded more than 60 feet (20 meters) deep.
- Arctic heat: Temperatures over land are rising faster in the Arctic than in other regions of the planet. Fairbanks, Alaska, had a record 36 days with temperatures at 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) or warmer. However, Greenland had a cooler than average summer.
- Warm seas: Sea surface temperatures for 2013 were among the 10 warmest on record. Temperatures in the North Pacific hit a record high in 2013.
Antarctic Sea Ice Growing Despite Global Warming Warnings
Sunday, 29 Jun 2014 10:37 AM
By GCN Staff
NASA launches challenges using OpenNEX data
NASA is launching two challenges to give the public an opportunity to create innovative ways to use data from the agency’s Earth science satellites.
The open data challenges will use the Open NASA Earth Exchange (OpenNEX), an Amazon Web Services data and supercomputing platform where users can share knowledge and expertise.
A component of the NASA Earth Exchange, OpenNEX also features a large collection of climate and Earth science satellite data sets, including global land surface images, vegetation conditions, climate observations and climate projections.
“OpenNEX provides the general public with easy access to an integrated Earth science computational and data platform,” said Rama Nemani, principal scientist for the NEX project at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
“These challenges allow citizen scientists to realize the value of NASA data assets and offers NASA new ideas on how to share and use that data.”
To educate citizen scientists on how the data on OpenNEX can be used, NASA is releasing a series of online video lectures and hands-on lab modules.
The first stage of the challenge offers as much as $10,000 in awards for ideas on novel uses of the data sets. The second stage, beginning in August, will offer between $30,000 and $50,000 for the development of an application or algorithm that promotes climate resilience using the OpenNEX data, and based on ideas from the first stage of the challenge. NASA will announce the overall challenge winners in December.
OpenNEX is hosted on the Amazon Web Services cloud and available to the public through a Space Act Agreement.
Posted by GCN Staff on Jun 25, 2014 at 12:18 PM
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