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2019 Was Earth's Second-Warmest Year on Record & the 2010s Were the Warmest Decade
1/8/20 The planet registered its second-hottest year on record in 2019, capping off a five-year period that ranks as the warmest such span in recorded history. In addition, the 2010s will go down in history as the planet’s hottest decade, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), a science initiative of the Europe Union.
The service, which monitors global surface temperatures, determined Earth last year was a full degree warmer (0.6 Celsius) than the 1981-2010 average. This data provides the first comprehensive global look at the state of the climate in 2019, with U.S. agencies such as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expected to announce similar results next week.
“2019 has been another exceptionally warm year, in fact the second warmest globally in our data set, with many of the individual months breaking records,” said Carlo Buontempo, head of C3S, in a news release.
The past five years averaged 2 to 2.2 degrees (1.1 to 1.2 Celsius) above preindustrial levels, C3S found. The magnitude of warming puts the planet perilously close to one of the temperature guardrails outlined in the Paris climate agreement, in which policymakers agreed to limit by 2100 global warming to “well below” 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius, above preindustrial levels.
The aspirational goal in the agreement is to hold temperatures to a 2.7-degree increase, or 1.5 Celsius, above preindustrial levels, which is a target favored by the countries considered most vulnerable to climate impacts, such as small island nations.
The rapid warming has occurred as concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a long-lived heat-trapping greenhouse gas, continue to increase. Copernicus cited satellite measurements showing the amount of carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere in 2019 increased by 2.3 parts per million, which was larger than the growth rate in 2018 but below the growth rate of 2.9 ppm in 2015.
Overall, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now the highest level in human history and probably has not been seen on this planet for 3 million years. However, to meet the Paris targets, the world would need to commit to rapidly slashing carbon emissions at a rate far outside the plans of any of the largest emitters, making the 2.7-degree goal technically possible but politically unlikely.
The year 2019 featured numerous climate milestones, most of which indicated human and natural systems are already being buffeted by extensive impacts from relatively low levels of climate change, considering the warming projected to come in the next several decades.
In 2019, extreme climate events, such as a searing European heat wave, drove home the urgency of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. The recent bush fires in Australia charred millions of acres in December, which was that country’s hottest month on record, capping off its hottest and driest year.
The Arctic may have crossed key threshold, emitting billions of tons of carbon into the air, in a long-dreaded climate feedback.
2019 was also the warmest summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and Europe had its hottest year on record. Europe also had its hottest December on record as 2019 came to a close.
The year also brought fierce hurricanes that rapidly intensified from weak to monstrous storms — a process in which climate change is thought to play a role. Among them was Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the northwestern Bahamas. In the United States, Alaska experienced record warmth, with an astonishing lack of sea ice in the Bering and Chukchi Seas even during winter.
The year also brought troubling signs that natural systems that serve to store huge quantities of carbon dioxide and methane, the latter being another powerful greenhouse gas, may be faltering as temperatures increase. In December, a federal report indicated the permafrost that rings the Arctic may already be a net source of atmospheric carbon, which would accelerate global warming in what is known as a positive feedback. Raging fires in the Amazon during the year, largely as a result of a pro-development government in Brazil, now threaten to turn the world’s most productive rainforest into a drier, less carbon-rich savanna.
2014 Was Earth's Warmest Year on Record
(at the time)
Last year was Earth's hottest on record in new evidence that people are disrupting the climate by burning fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases into the air, two U.S. government agencies said on Friday. The White House said the studies, by the U.S. space agency NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), showed climate change was happening now and that action was needed to cut rising world greenhouse gas emissions.
The 10 warmest years since records began in the 19th century have all been since 1997, the data showed. Last year was the warmest, ahead of 2010, undermining claims by some skeptics that global warming has stopped in recent years.
Record temperatures in 2014 were spread around the globe, including most of Europe stretching into northern Africa, the western United States, far eastern Russia into western Alaska, parts of interior South America, parts of eastern and western coastal Australia and elsewhere, NASA and NOAA said.
"While the ranking of individual years can be affected by chaotic weather patterns, the long-term trends are attributable to drivers of climate change that right now are dominated by human emissions of greenhouse gases," said the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York.
“The data shows quite clearly that it's the greenhouse gas trends that are responsible for the majority of the trends," he told reporters. Emissions were still rising “so we may anticipate further record highs in the years to come.”
U.N. studies show there already are more extremes of heat and rainfall and project ever more disruptions to food and water supplies. Sea levels are rising, threatening millions of people living near coasts, as ice melts from Greenland to Antarctica.
The new data "is another reminder that climate change is not a problem for the future - it's happening here and now and we can't wait to take action," a White House official said in a statement.
The director of climate research at Britain's National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, said a single year did not mean much because it might be a freak hot year.
"But the fact that now 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have occurred since the turn of the century shows just how clear global warming has become," he said.
Even so, temperatures have not risen as fast as they did in the 1980s or 1990s, taking an unusually warm 1998 as a starting point. The IPCC has described it as a hiatus in warming.
Since 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius), NASA said. The NASA and NOAA analyses showed that the world's oceans all warmed last year, offsetting somewhat more moderate temperatures over land.
The average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.24 degrees F (0.69 degree C) above the 20th century average, NOAA said.
The scientists noted that the record was set in a year that did not have the weather pattern known as El Niño, which can heat up the atmosphere and has been a factor in many past record-setting years, including 1998.
Baltimore's 2010 Record Summer Heat Stats
June, 2010: Warmest June on Record ...Warmest Worldwide but China, NW US Cooler
7/15/2010 June 2010 was the warmest June on record, extending months of record-setting heat. Worldwide, the average temperature in June was 61.1 degrees Fahrenheit (16.2 Celsius), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday. That was 1.22 degrees F (0.68 C) warmer than average for June.
The year 2010 has had the warmest average temperature for January-June on record — 57.5 F (12.2 C).
Peru, the central and eastern regions of the United States, and eastern and western Asia were warmer than usual in June 2010. Scandinavia, southern China and the northwestern United States were all cooler than normal.
NOAA also said that Arctic sea ice covered 4.2 million square miles (10.9 million square kilometers). This is the lowest June coverage since records began in 1979 and 10.6 percent below the 1979-2000 average. It is the 19th consecutive June with below average sea ice.
2006 Warmest Yet in US (at the time) ...Sixth-Warmest Worldwide
1/9/2007 The year 2006 was the warmest on record for the United States, with readings pushed over higher than normal by the unusual and unseasonably warm weather during the last half of December.
Data from the National Climatic Data Center listed the average temperature for the 48 contiguous states last year as 55 degrees Fahrenheit. That's 2.2 degrees warmer than average and 0.07 degree warmer than 1998, the previous warmest year on record. Worldwide, the agency said, it was the sixth warmest year on record.
The Center said it is not clear how much of the warming is a result of greenhouse-gas induced climate change and how much resulted from El Nino warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean.
El Nino conditions occur every few years in the Pacific and can affect climate around the world, including producing warmer conditions in the US.
The average U.S. and global temperature are both about 1 degree warmer than at the start of the 20th century, a change many scientists attribute to gases released into the atmosphere by industrial processes. The temperature data was collected from a network of more than 1,200 stations across the country.
2005 Continued the Warming Trend...Temperatures Among the Highest on Record, Scientists Announce
12/16/2005 2005 has been one of the hottest on record, scientists in the United States and Britain reported yesterday, a finding that puts eight of the past 10 years at the top of the charts in terms of high temperatures.
Three studies released 12/15/05 all indicate the Earth is rapidly warming. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has concluded 2005 was the warmest year in recorded history, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.K. Meteorological Office call it the second hottest, after 1998. All three groups agree that 2005 is the hottest year on record for the Northern Hemisphere, at roughly 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the historical average.
The three teams used the same set of ocean and land temperature records, but they analyzed the data and compensated for gaps in the climatic record differently. As a result, NASA scientists estimate that 2005 average global land and sea temperatures were 1.04 degrees Fahrenheit above average, just beating out 1998's 1-degree elevation. NOAA researchers, by contrast, say this year's global average is 1.06 degrees Fahrenheit above average, compared with 1.1 degrees in 1998. The analyses were based on data through the end of November and projections of December temperatures.
The Earth has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century, with 1 degree of this increase occurring in the past 30 years. This climate change has brought unusually prolonged droughts in some regions and heavy precipitation in others, while the Arctic's sea ice has shrunk to its lowest level since observers started using satellite records in 1979. NASA's Goddard Institute said this year's statistics were particularly significant because in 1998 the world experienced El Nino, which drove up temperatures dramatically. Year 2005, by contrast, the world reached record levels without such a dramatic climatic event.
The world's temperatures are on an upward trend, NASA contends, "because it is being driven by the Earth's present energy imbalance, which is substantial." As long as humans keep adding more heat-trapping greenhouse gases, "the planet stays out of energy balance."
U.N. Says 2003 is 3rd-Hottest Year on Record...Planet's 3rd-Hottest Year in Past 150
12/16/2003 With nearly half the country reeling from a blistering drought, the summer of 2002 was the hottest since the depression-stricken "Dust Bowl" era of the 1930s, U.S. government weather experts said.
The year 2003, marked by a sweltering summer and drought across large swaths of the planet, was the third hottest in nearly 150 years, the United Nations weather agency said . The World Meteorological Organization estimated the average surface temperature for the year to be 0.81 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the normal 57 degrees.
The agency said that warmer weather could not be attributed to any one cause but was part of a trend that global warming was likely to prolong. The agency, which collects data from forecasters worldwide, said the three hottest years since accurate records began to be kept in 1861 have all been in the past six years. The hottest was 1998, when the average temperature was up 0.99 degrees.
"The rhythm of temperature increases is accelerating," said a WMO official.
In summer '03, much of Europe was struck by a prolonged heat wave, with temperatures exceeding 104 degrees. The hot weather was blamed for the deaths of thousands, most in France, and devastating forest fires in several countries. It also accelerated the melting of Alpine glaciers, the WMO said.
India and Pakistan also were hit by a deadly heat wave in May and June, when 1,500 people died as temperatures soared above 122 degrees Fahrenheit. The western United States continued to suffer from drought, and wildfires in California burned nearly 75,000 acres of land in October.
In the southern hemisphere springtime, Australia logged a record September temperature of over 109 degrees.
Over the 2002-03 winter, North America received its 10th lowest recorded snowfall, although the northeastern United States was battered with a record snowstorm in February.
Other parts of the world also faced extreme winter weather. January temperatures in northeastern Russia dropped to -49 degrees, while Mongolia also was gripped by an exceptionally harsh winter for the third year running, devastating livestock.
Summer of 2002 Was Hottest Since 1930s Dust Bowl
...Since 1895, 3rd-Hottest June-August
With nearly half the country reeling from a blistering drought, the summer of 2002 was the hottest since the depression-stricken "Dust Bowl" era of the 1930s, U.S. government weather experts said.
Summer 2001 Fifth-Warmest
Long-term Western U.S. Drought Continued
The summer's scorching temperatures sparked raging forest fires in the West, wilted crops in the Midwest and parched pastures in the Plains. NOAA said the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. from June through August was 73.9 degrees, the third hottest summer since records began in 1895. The only summers warmer were 1936 and 1934, when vast numbers of farmers were driven from their land by drought.
"It's very extraordinary to have the warmest summer since the 1930s Dust Bowl days," said a drought specialist for NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
Although the U.S. economy is no longer as dependent on agriculture as it was in the 1930s, a major drought in 2000 caused damage worth $4 billion and claimed 140 lives nationwide. That summer in 2000 was only the 12th warmest on record.
Moderate to extreme drought covered more than 45 percent of the United States. Six states -- North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada -- suffered their worst drought on record. South Carolina, Maryland, Georgia, Delaware and Wyoming were also near unprecedented dry levels. NOAA officials predicted the direct loss of the year's drought would certainly be in the billions of dollars.
"It will be a significant dollar impact, but nothing similar to 1988 where the Corn Belt was devastated by drought -- well over $10 billion of direct damage," NOAA said.
NOAA said the 2002 drought would continue to linger for another six months due to the arrival of a weak El Nino weather anomaly.
The most extensive national drought in the past 100 years was in 1934 when it hit 80 percent of the country. Studying tree ring records, NOAA researchers said the severity of the 1930s drought was likely surpassed only in the 1570s and 1580s.
9/27/2001 Summer was a bit warmer than normal, with temperatures reaching their fifth-highest levels during June, July and August, according to government climate experts.
Delmarva Had Very Dry October 2000
Temperatures averaged 73.6 degrees Fahrenheit during the just- completed summer. That's 1.5 degrees above normal. Rainfall averaged 8.4 inches across the country during the summer, close to the long-term average of 8.2 inches.
The information published Wednesday by the government's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., covers meteorological summer, which is June, July and August. The agency said that while national temperatures were above normal, cooler than normal readings were seen in much of the Southeast.
The biggest heat wave struck in late July and early August, beginning in the southern Plains and stretching into the upper Midwest, with higher-than-normal temperatures extending into the northeastern United States by the second week of August.
Daily highs in the 90s and 100s, combined with high humidity, led to dangerous heat stress levels and numerous heat-related deaths. It was the fourth warmest August on record with a nationally average temperature of 74.9, some 2.1 degrees above the long-term mean.
The wettest weather occurred along the central Gulf Coast region, as tropical storms Allison and Barry brought heavy rains during June and August, respectively.
Rainfall in the West did little to alleviate long-term drought, which worsened in many parts of the Northwest.
By the end of August, moderate to extreme drought conditions covered much of that region, as well as western Wyoming and Montana, the Climate Center reported.
Among the Driest Since 1870
2000 Warmest First-Half Year In U.S. Ever
The cities of Baltimore and Washington DC -- and many portions of the mid-Atlantic region-- completed a very dry (and in some cases rainless, as in Raleigh NC) October 2000. Here are the five driest months since 1870 for Washington, DC and Baltimore Md (source: NWS):
DRIEST MONTHS ON RECORD IN WASHINGTON DC:
OCTOBER 1963........ TRACE
OCTOBER 2000........ 0.02''
APRIL 1985............... 0.03''
SEPTEMBER 1884...... 0.14''
DECEMBER 1889....... 0.19''
SEPTEMBER 1967...... 0.20''
DRIEST MONTHS ON RECORD IN BALTIMORE:
OCTOBER 1963...... TRACE
OCTOBER 1924...... 0.05''
OCTOBER 2000...... 0.08''
SEPTEMBER 1884.... 0.09''
JUNE 1954.............. 0.15''
OCTOBER 1874...... 0.16 ''
NOAA said January to June 2000 was the warmest first half of the year since the agency began record-keeping 106 years ago. It was the warmest six-month period on record for New Mexico and the second-warmest for Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Texas. The six-month period was also the third-driest year-to-date for Florida and the second-wettest for New York, NOAA said.
Mid-Atlantic: Wet Spring 2000 Helped
...April 2000's Rains Provided Later Gains
The wettest April in 17 years diminished the drought threat in many mid-Atlantic areas during summer 2000. Slightly more than 5 inches fell at BWI in April 2000, about 2 inches above normal. In some places well levels were 3-5 feet higher than they were at the same time in 1999.
The 1999 drought followed a dry Fall '98 and Winter '98-'99. Many parts of the mid-Atlantic entered Summer 2000 after a wet Fall '99 and normal Winter '99-'00, and above average rainfall in the Spring. The dire predicitions of a widespread 2000 mid-Atlantic Summer drought never came to pass.
Below are some related links to assist in planning for your vacation, business and agricultural interests.
Radar-Satellite Overlay Loop
Latest Extended Temp Forecast
Latest Extended Precip Forecast
Palmer Index (Drought Severity)
Fire Growth Potential (Haines Index
14-Day Soil Moisture Outlook
Crop Moisture Index