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.
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.
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.
Glacier mass balance in 2011 (the most recent year for which worldwide analysis is complete) was negative, and preliminary data indicate that 2012 will probably be the 22nd consecutive year of net losses in glacier mass. Between 1980 and 2011, glaciers around the world lost the water equivalent of 15.7 meters. That would be like slicing a roughly 17-meter-thick slab off the top of the average glacier and repeating that exercise worldwide.
Global average sea level in 2012 was 1.4 inches above the 1993-2010 average, which was the highest yearly average in the satellite record. Sea level has been rising over the past century, and the pace has increased in recent decades.