2019 was second-hottest year on record, 2010s hottest decade

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  • Global average temperatures on land and at sea in December 2019 were the second-highest recorded in the month of December since record-keeping began in 1880. That capped off a year that will also go down as the second-hottest on record, according to data released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today.
  • The average temperature across Earth’s land and ocean surfaces in 2019 was 1.71°Fahrenheit or 0.95°Celsius above the 20th-century average, NOAA reports, just 0.07°F or 0.04°C below the hottest year on record, 2016.
  • A separate analysis by NASA scientists confirmed 2019 as the second-warmest year on record. Earth’s average global surface temperature is now more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit, or slightly more than 1 degree Celsius, higher than it was in the late 19th century, NASA reported.

Global average temperatures on land and at sea in December 2019 were the second-highest recorded in the month of December since record-keeping began in 1880. That capped off a year that will also go down as the second-hottest on record, according to data released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today.

The average temperature across Earth’s land and ocean surfaces in 2019 was 1.71°Fahrenheit or 0.95°Celsius above the 20th-century average, NOAA reports, just 0.07°F or 0.04°C below the hottest year on record, 2016.

That makes 2019 the 43rd consecutive year of above-average temperatures, going back to 1977, with the five warmest years all occurring since 2015. Nine of the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2005 — 1998 being the only year among the 10 warmest that didn’t occur in the 21st century.

Parts of southern Africa, Asia, Australia, central Europe, Madagascar, New Zealand, North America, and eastern South America all experienced record high annual temperatures over land surfaces in 2019. There were no land areas on Earth that experienced record cold temperatures for the year.

Credit: NOAA

Meanwhile, record-high annual temperatures were measured in parts of the North and South Atlantic Ocean, the western Indian Ocean, and northern, western, and southwestern Pacific Ocean. No ocean areas experienced record cold temperatures.

Across the globe, annual land and ocean temperatures have increased at an average rate of +0.13°F or +0.07°C per decade since 1880, though the average rate of increase has been more than double that rate — +0.32°F or +0.18°C per decade — since 1981.

Separate analyses by NASA scientists and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that 2019 was the second-warmest year in the 140-year record.

“The decade that just ended is clearly the warmest decade on record,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a statement. “Every decade since the 1960s clearly has been warmer than the one before.”

Earth’s average global surface temperature is now more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit, or slightly more than 1 degree Celsius, higher than it was in the late 19th century, NASA reported.

“We crossed over into more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit warming territory in 2015 and we are unlikely to go back,” Schmidt added. “This shows that what’s happening is persistent, not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon: we know that the long-term trends are being driven by the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

Credit: NOAA. Click for larger view.

“The average global temperature has risen by about 1.1°C since the pre-industrial era and ocean heat content is at a record level,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement. “On the current path of carbon dioxide emissions, we are heading towards a temperature increase of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by the end of century.”

Unchecked greenhouse gas emissions levels and rising global temperature averages don’t tell the whole story of global climate change, however. As the WMO notes, the past decade has been “characterized by retreating ice, record sea levels, increasing ocean heat and acidification, and extreme weather.”

2020 is expected to continue the climatic trends on full display in 2019.

“The year 2020 has started out where 2019 left off — with high-impact weather and climate-related events,” Taalas said. “Australia had its hottest, driest year on record in 2019, setting the scene for the massive bushfires which were so devastating to people and property, wildlife, ecosystems and the environment. Unfortunately, we expect to see much extreme weather throughout 2020 and the coming decades, fuelled by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

This story first appeared on Mongabay

South Africa Today – Environment


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