RAPID REACTION: NOAA releases annual temperature data – 2013 equal fourth hottest year on record – experts respond

Wed Jan 22, 2014

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US has released its global temperature analysis for 2013. Details here: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2013/13. It has found that the year 2013 ties with 2003 as the fourth warmest year globally since records began in 1880 and it marks the 37th consecutive year (since 1976) that the yearly global temperature was above average. Below Australian experts respond. 

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Professor Glenn Albrecht is Professor of Sustainability and Director of the Institute for Social Sustainability at Murdoch University, WA

 “The NOAA data should put to rest any doubt that the planet is warming. That all people on earth under the age of 37 have never experienced a below-average annual global temperature should be sufficient warning that we cannot continue with business-as-usual. Climate science has always argued that it is the long-term trend that we must pay attention to, not anomalies or the short-term vicissitudes of the weather. That we now have multi-decadal evidence of warming is a solid reason to put into effect the precautionary principle.

The immediate curtailment of greenhouse gas emissions is a mandatory and urgent response, as is the rapid investment in climate-safe renewable energy. To ignore the evidence from now on is to pretend ignorance in the face of overwhelming and readily available evidence. Such pretence is unethical in the extreme and will condemn future generations to a global climate that will be hostile to current ecosystems, health, biodiversity, agriculture and human infrastructure (e.g., cities) all over the world. NOAA has given us a warning about warming and we must act now with a rational and ethical response to the evidence we have before us.”


Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe is professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University, Queensland and President of the Australian Conservation Foundation 

“The NOAA report confirms at a global scale what we know from Australian Bureau of Meteorology data released recently: the world is getting steadily warmer. While some media outlets are repeating the myth spread by deniers that there has been a pause in warming, the NOAA data confirm that the trend of global warming is continuing. It also confirms that we are seeing more extremes of weather, as the science has been warning us to expect for 25 years. This is further evidence that our governments need to pay attention to the science rather than uninformed self-appointed critics, and take concerted action, both to reduce our domestic production of greenhouse gases and to halt the disastrous proposals to expand fossil fuel exports.” 


Professor Neville Nicholls is in the School of Geography and Environmental Science at Monash University, Victoria 

“The warmth of recent years is even more dramatic if you look at global temperatures over land. Over land, every one of the last 13 years (2001-2013) is in the list of the warmest 14 years on record. Only one year from the 20th century (1998) is amongst the 14 warmest years over land. 1998 was the fifth warmest year over land; 2007, 2010, 2005 and 2013 were each warmer than 1998. Global temperatures over land have increased at a rate of about 1.5°C per century, over the last 15 years.” 


Professor Dave Griggs is CEO of ClimateWorks Australia & Director of the Monash Sustainability Institute at Monash University 

“The global temperature figures are out and it feels like groundhog day talking about what a hot year it has been, the 37th consecutive year with temperatures above the 20th century average.”


Professor John Quiggin is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow in the School of Economics at the University of Queensland and a member of the Climate Change Authority 

“The NOAA has reported, yet again, evidence on the continuing upward trend in global temperatures. The safest prediction that can be made with respect to this news is that it will do nothing to change the actual or ostensible opinions of self-described “sceptics”, most of whom will continue to think that the occurrence of a single relatively hot year (1998) in the late 20th century implies that global warming has “stopped” or “paused” in the 21st century.  

Only someone completely ignorant of time series statistics could make such a claim. Sadly, such people are numerous, and determine the positions adopted by sections of the media and some members of the current government, as well as of conservative political parties in most English speaking countries and elsewhere. In these circumstances, there is little chance that effective action will be taken to stabilise the global climate before it is too late”