Planet Still Getting Hotter, Say Scientists

(Bob Karp/The Daily Record/AP Photo)

As another frigid, snowy winter storm bares its teeth across much of the Northeastern United States, climate scientists today released new numbers they say show the planet is still getting warmer.

"There are times such as today when we can have snow even in a globally warming world. But the long-term trends are very clear. They're not going to disappear. There isn't an error in our calculations," said Gavin Schmidt, the deputy director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

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The year 2013 tied with 2003 as the fourth warmest on record, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NASA, which uses a slightly different method for calculating global temperature, ranks 2013 as the seventh-warmest year since 1880, tied with 2009 and 2006.

Last year was the 37th in a row in which global temperatures were higher than the 20 th century average, scientists said, and nine of the 10 warmest years on record all occurred in the 21 st century.

"The long-term trends in climate are extremely robust," NASA's Schmidt said during a conference call with reporters, noting that any single short-term hot or cold spell doesn't dispel global warming science. "Quite frankly, people have a very short memory when it comes to their own experience of weather and climate."

Australia sweated through its hottest year on record, going back 104 years, the NOAA report said.

Last year also brought the worst drought in 30 years to Botswana and Namibia in southern Africa, NOAA said.

Most of the planet's land and ocean areas were warmer than average, or broke heat records in 2013, scientists said. Only the central United States was cooler than average.

"No region of the globe was record cold during 2013," the NOAA analysis said.

The United States experienced seven severe weather and climate disasters costing, $1 billion or more in 2013, according to NOAA.

Around the world, there were 41 billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013, second only to 2010, The Associated Press reported.

Last week, climate scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric research in Boulder, Colo., released data showing Arctic freezes weren't lasting as long as they used to.

A vast majority of the world's climate scientists said the planet's temperature was rising because gases released by the burning of fossil fuels are trapping heat in Earth's atmosphere, creating a greenhouse effect. A recent draft report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change urges countries to cut emissions and shift to cleaner sources of energy.