2019 Second Hottest Year Since Records Began, NOAA Says

Land and ocean temperatures have been above average for the past 43 years and nine of the 10 warmest years on record have come since 2005.

Jan. 20, 2020
By Isabel Putinja

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The hottest half-decade on record has just passed, with 2019 fin­ish­ing as the sec­ond hottest year too, accord­ing to the 2019 global cli­mate report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Record-high land tem­per­a­tures were recorded in Australia and New Zealand, parts of cen­tral Europe, Asia, south­ern Africa, North America and east­ern South America. Additionally, record-high ocean tem­per­a­tures were mea­sured in all four oceans.

The fact is that the planet is warm­ing, and every year, we add one extra data point to this graph.- Gavin Schmidt, NOAA

According to data col­lected by NOAA, the aver­age tem­per­a­ture in 2019 was 0.95 °C (1.71 °F) above aver­age and 0.04 degrees Celsius (0.07 degrees Fahrenheit) less than the record set in 2016. 2016 was the hottest year since records began in 1880, with a tem­per­a­ture rise of 0.99 °C (1.78 °F) above-aver­age tem­per­a­tures.

I would say, notwith­stand­ing some sort of major, major geo­phys­i­cal event, it would be almost cer­tain that the [com­ing] decade will be warmer than the pre­vi­ous,” Deke Arndt, head of the mon­i­tor­ing branch at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, told NPR.

Animation showing Arctic sea ice from March 5 to Sept. 15, 2020 with the 30-year average minimum shown in yellow. Video by Trent L. Schindler/NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

Overall, land and ocean tem­per­a­tures have been above aver­age for the past 43 years and nine of the 10 warmest years on record have come since 2005.

The fact is that the planet is warm­ing, and every year, we add one extra data point to this graph,” the direc­tor of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Gavin Schmidt, told NPR. “[However,] the main thing here is not really the rank­ing but is the con­sis­tency of the long-term trends that we’re see­ing.”

In a his­tor­i­cal con­text, 2019 global land and sea tem­per­a­tures were 1.15 °C (2.07 °F) above the aver­age of the 21-year span from 1880 to 1900 – which is often con­sid­ered a sur­ro­gate for pre-indus­trial con­di­tions.

See Also: How Climate Change Has Impacted the 2019 Harvest

Since 1981, one cen­tury after tem­per­a­tures began being recorded, the aver­age rate of tem­per­a­ture increase per decade has more than dou­bled, ris­ing from +0.07 °C (+0.13 °F) to +0.18 degrees (+0.32 °F).

In the past year, the global land sur­face tem­per­a­ture was 1.42 degrees Celsius (2.56 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th cen­tury aver­age, tying with 2015 as the sec­ond high­est.

Meanwhile, the global sea sur­face tem­per­a­ture also came in sec­ond place in 2019 with a tem­per­a­ture that was 0.77 °C (1.39 °F) higher than the 20th-cen­tury aver­age.

NOAA’s analy­sis of global tem­per­a­ture data for 2019 is in line with those mea­sured by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), NASA and Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth Observation Program, all of which con­cluded that 2019 was the sec­ond-hottest year on record.

The warm­ing up until now since the 1970s has been quite close to lin­ear,” Schmidt said. You’d imag­ine we’d cross 1.5 [degrees Celsius] in around 2035. But of course, that depends on what we do with emis­sions, and we’re not able to tell you look­ing at the past how soci­ety will react.”

Adopted in 2016, the Paris Agreement on cli­mate change has set the goal to limit the rise in global tem­per­a­tures to below 2 °C (3.6 °F) by 2030 and ide­ally to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F).

  • NOAA

  • NPR


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