WMO says 2019 second hottest on record

Pablo Tucker
January 16, 2020

Earth endured its second-hottest year on record in 2019, NASA and NOAA scientists announced Wednesday, capping a decade they say was the warmest in recorded history. It found that the global mean temperature in 2019 was 1.28 °C (2.31 °F) above the average temperature of the late 19th century.

Schmidt said Earth as a whole is probably the hottest it has been during the Holocene - the past 11,500 years or so - meaning this could be the warmest period since the dawn of civilization.

The past five years were the hottest in the 170-year series, with the average of each one more than 1C warmer than pre-industrial. He said that shows the global goal can't be achieved.

Differences between the various estimates arise largely from the way that the data-sparse polar regions are handled.

Scientists say climate change is likely to have contributed to severe weather in 2019 such as a heatwave in Europe and the hurricane that killed at least 50 people when it barrelled through the Bahamas in September. Warming of the climate system is seen across a range of climate indicators that build a holistic picture of change outside of our expectations from natural variability across the land, atmosphere, oceans and ice.

In 2019 temperatures around the world were higher - about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.98 degrees Celsius - than the historical average, according to data from NASA and NOAA. "But people are not responsible for why 2016 was warmer than 2015 or why 2019 was warmer than 2018".

The World Meteorological Organization, which based its findings on analysis of leading worldwide datasets, said increases in global temperatures had already had dire consequences, pointing to "retreating ice, record sea levels, increasing ocean heat and acidification, and extreme weather".

"Human-caused climate change is responsible for the long-term warming - it's responsible for why the 2010s were warmer than 2000s, which were warmer than the 1990s, etc.", Texas A&M University climate scientist Andrew Dessler said in an email. In the U.S., Alaska, Georgia and North Carolina felt the highest average temperatures on record with overall above-average temperatures in most of the country.

The United States, which had only its 34th-warmest year, was nevertheless hit by 14 weather disasters that caused $1 billion or more in damage last year, according to NOAA.

Deke Arndt, chief of the global monitoring branch of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, said ocean temperature is an important measure of overall trends because roughly 90% of warming from greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is transferred to the ocean.

US President Donald Trump has cast doubt on mainstream climate science. As the space agency pointed out, this warming resulted in 2019's unprecedented fires and the ramped-up melting of Greenland's vast ice sheet.

Melting Sea ice continued previous year, creating a major decline. Dr. Renee Salas, a Boston emergency room physician and Harvard professor who studies climate change's effects on health, said: "these temperatures are not just statistics but have names and stories".

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