WASHINGTON, July 21 (UPI) -- A new climate report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offers another reminder that the planet is getting warmer.
According to The State of the Climate report 2013 edition, last year was one of the warmest on record -- anywhere from the second to fifth hottest, depending on which data set is used.
Thomas Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, likened the latest news on the planet's health to the creeping threat of an expanding midsection as we get older and let our bodies go.
"The climate is changing more rapidly in today's world than at any time in modern civilization," Karl said. "We're continuing to see ourselves put more weight on from year to year."
The planet is not only getting warmer, but -- as expected -- is surrounded by an atmosphere increasingly composed of greenhouse gases. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have never been higher, with global averages nearing 400 parts per million.
"The major greenhouse gases all reached new record high values in 2013," explained Jessica Blunden, a climatologist with ERT, Inc., and one of the report's authors.
The report also pointed out that sea levels continue to rise, sea temperatures continue to warm, glaciers continue to shrink and permafrost continues to melt.