2013 Weather Extremes Consistent With Climate Change, U.N. Report Finds


The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released their annual State of the Climate report to coincide with World Meteorological Day on March 23. This year’s report highlights extreme events, confirming that the dramatic impacts of droughts, heat waves, floods, and tropical cyclones are consistent with what is expected as a result of human-caused climate change.

“There is no standstill in global warming,” said WMO Secretary-General, Mr. Michel Jarraud in a statement. “We saw heavier precipitation, more intense heat, and more damage from storm surges and coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise — as Typhoon Haiyan so tragically demonstrated in the Philippines.”

The report found that 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have all occurred this century, with each of the last three decades being warmer than the previous — 2001–2010 was the warmest decade on record. Last year, temperatures in the southern hemisphere were especially warm, with “Australia having its hottest year on record and Argentina its second hottest:”

“Comparing climate model simulations with and without human factors shows that the record hot Australian summer of 2012/13 was about five times as likely as a result of human-induced influence on climate and that the record hot calendar year of 2013 would have been virtually impossible without human contributions of heat-trapping gases, illustrating that some extreme events are becoming much more likely due to climate change.”

Climate change is also picking up in the oceans, with warming accelerating and occurring at lower depths. Over 90 percent of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are stored in ocean, and with GHGs at record levels, warming will continue for centuries whether we act now to mitigate emissions or wait even longer.

The report confirmed that 2013 tied with 2007 as the sixth-warmest on record, continuing the long-term trend of warming. The United Nations used this year’s World Meteorological Day to call for young people, especially women, to play an active role in understanding the climate and weather of the future and to help limit warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

“The world’s youth can be a powerful actor of change in this regard,” Jarraud said. “Climate action is not just about CO2 emissions, it is about people, about the values we share and what each of us is ready to do to promote them. Young people are a source of innovation and of fresh insights into problems and their possible solutions. They call for just, equitable solutions.”