2019 is now officially the second warmest year on record, according to a joint press release from NASA and NOAA, with 2016 still holding the dubious distinction of being at the top of the global warming thermometer. Unfortunately, because the planet has seen consistent year-over-year temperature increases, the 2010s are now the hottest decade on record, with the last half decade making up the five hottest years recorded.
“The decade that just ended is clearly the warmest decade on record,” said Gavin Schmidt, the Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). “Every decade since the 1960s clearly has been warmer than the one before.”
The Earth’s average temperature for 2019 came in at 0.98°C (1.8°F) above the 1951 to 1980 average temperature—that’s 1.1°C (2.0°F) above the late-nineteenth century average. The current record holder, 2016, saw the planet’s average surface temperature hiked higher than normal due to back-to-back record El Niño events.
Although both NASA and NOAA conducted their analyses independent of one-another, their findings closely coincided, along with the numbers released by the Berkeley Earth research group, the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre, and the Cowtan and Way analysis.
This continued warming has resulted in a multitude of extreme weather events throughout the year, including (but far from limited to) intense heat waves, extreme precipitation events, and record-breaking floods and wildfires.
The extent of Arctic sea ice in September tied with 2007 and 2016 for the second lowest in the satellite record (2012 is still the record-holder), followed by a slow autumn freeze, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center. Overall, the 2010s saw consistently low Arctic sea ice extent compared to long-term averages. Although 2019 was only the 34th warmest year for the contiguous 48 United States, earning the year a “warmer than average” classification, the Arctic has warmed three times faster than the rest of the planet.
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