Last decade confirmed as Earth's hottest on record
New analyses by researchers representing a number of leading scientific organizations has shed further light on the trend of rising global temperatures. NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the World Meteorological Organization and the UK Met Office have determined 2019 to be the second warmest year on record, with the last decade confirmed to be the hottest on record.
Record-keeping of global temperatures dates back to the 1880s, and the latest study of the data has confirmed 2019 to be behind only 2016 in terms of heat. Global temperatures across the year were 1.8° F (0.98° C) above the 20th-century average and just 0.07° F (0.04° C) cooler than those of 2016, according to analysis by NOAA and NASA’s scientists.
Following analysis of climate models and statistical analysis of the temperature data taken from more than 20,000 monitoring stations, the scientists are unequivocal in attributing the majority of this increased warming to the growing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
“We crossed over into more than 2° F (1.1°C) warming territory in 2015 and we are unlikely to go back,” NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies Director Gavin Schmidt. "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.”
NASA researchers also confirmed that the Arctic continues to be particularly vulnerable to climate change, with the region warming more than three times faster than the rest of the world since 1970.
NOAA used a slightly different method of analysis of the same temperature data and found global temperatures in 2019 to be 1.7° F (0.95° C) above the 20th century average. This finding, that 2019 was the second hottest year on record, was backed up by separate analysis from the UK’s Met Office along with the World Meteorological Organization.
“The decade that just ended is clearly the warmest decade on record,” says Schmidt. “Every decade since the 1960s clearly has been warmer than the one before.”
The NASA animation below offers an overlook of this warming trend, along with other insights from the analysis.