ENVIRONMENT
01/22/2014 06:09 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Are 2013's Most Extreme Weather Events Just A Taste Of What's To Come?

Earth was hot in 2013. Really hot. So hot that according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's latest global climate report from the National Climatic Data Center, 2013 was tied with 2003 for the fourth-warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880.

And high temperatures weren't the only weather story of the past year. The World Resources Institute, a non-partisan environmental research organization, has put together a detailed timeline of some of the most extreme weather events of 2013, using data from NOAA's most recent report and supplementing it with other outstanding phenomena.

"We've seen very low precipitation or very high precipitation depending on where you are in the world," Kelly Levin, a senior associate at WRI and a co-author of the timeline, told The Huffington Post. "And then across the board, we're seeing a significant number of record temperatures being broken -- all of which is certainly consistent with what models suggest will happen in changing climate."

Take a look at WRI's timeline, below:

Last year's high temperatures were only the latest in a long series. 2013 was the 37th consecutive year in which the average worldwide temperature was higher than 57 degrees Fahrenheit, which was the average global temperature for the 20th century. In other words, not since 1976 has Earth's average temperature been below that mark, according to NOAA's data.

So far, all the years of the 21st century, including 2013, have ranked among the 15 warmest on record. In addition, two of the three warmest years that have occurred on record -- 2010 and 2005 -- were in the 21st century, with 1998 being the other. Check out NOAA's full report for a detailed analysis.

The extreme weather timeline is "far from comprehensive," its authors write on the WRI blog, but it serves as "a reminder of the extreme events that have touched every community on the globe -- their citizens, ecosystems, and infrastructure."

"As we live in a world where we're seeing these events that are supposed to happen one in every 1,000 years or one in every 100 years happen much more often, are they truly considered extreme or is this the new normal we’re living in?" Levin told HuffPost. "Certainly the last few years suggest that we’re going to have to redefine what a normal climate looks like."

Levin added that the extreme weather events seen in 2013 were consistent with models of climate change, and that unless humanity can reduce its collective carbon footprint, more extreme weather is likely.

“Since extreme weather events and natural catastrophic loss events have been documented before 1980, there’s been a growing trend. In a warmer world, the consensus shows that certain events will become more frequent and intense," said WRI research analyst and timeline co-author Forbes Tompkins. "What was extreme today or was extreme in 1980 might become the new normal at some point.”

Here are 10 of the most extreme weather events from around the United States in 2013, according to WRI's timeline:

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2013's Extreme Weather Events
HuffPost

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