As the assessment now known as the BAMS State of the Climate report pushes into its third decade, international participation is at an all-time high. From atmospheric chemists to tropical meteorologists, more than 420 authors from institutions in 57 countries contributed to this year’s report.
The annual average concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere stood at 395.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2013—a 27 percent increase compared to conditions before the Industrial Revolution. On May 9, 2013, the daily average concentration of CO2 surpassed 400 ppm for the first time at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.
Super Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the east coast of Samar and Leyte Islands in the Phillippines with what may have been the highest recorded wind speed for a tropical cyclone at landfall. Haiyan, locally known as “Yolanda,” was the deadliest typhoon in the country’s modern record.
Observing temperature patterns in the lower stratosphere gives scientists clues about our planet’s changing climate. Global average temperatures in the lower stratosphere for 2013 were slightly below the 1981–2010 average.
The globally averaged sea surface temperature in 2013 was among the 10 highest on record, with the North Pacific reaching an historic high temperature. ENSO-neutral conditions and a negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation pattern had the largest impacts on global sea surface temperature in 2013.
Large-scale patterns of sea surface salinity in 2013 mirrored the overall trend seen from 2004 to 2013: salty, dry areas are becoming increasingly salty, and fresher areas are becoming increasingly fresh.
Upper ocean heat content has increased significantly over the past two decades. An estimated 70 percent of the excess heat has accumulated in the top 2,000 feet of the ocean, and the rest has flowed into deeper ocean layers.
In 2012—for the 23rd consecutive year—mountain glaciers worldwide lost more mass through melting than they gained through new snow accumulation. The retreat of the majority of mountain glaciers worldwide is one of the clearest signs that climate is warming over the long term.
In 2013, global average sea level was 1.5 inches above the 1993-2010 average, which is the highest yearly average in the satellite record (1993-present). Overall, sea level continues to rise at a rate of one-eighth of an inch per year.
While the Northern Hemisphere’s snow cover on land ranked as the 13th most extensive on record in 2013, snow cover extent at the end of the cold season has dropped by 19.9 percent per decade since 1979 relative to the 1981-2010 average.
From the strongest typhoon ever observed to historically high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, the State of the Climate in 2013 report provides a complete rundown on the state of Earth's climate and how it is changing.