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The year 2019 was the second hottest year on record

Drought in Namibia, 2020 (Photo: Dumbassman)Drought in Namibia, 2020 (Photo: Dumbassman)According to recent figures, the year 2019 was the second hottest on record for the Earth’s surface. Illustrating the scale of the climate emergency, the reports found that both the past five years and the past decade were the hottest in 170 years (i.e. since records began). The previous hottest year was 2016, at a time when El Niño, a natural event in which tropical ocean currents are reversed in the Pacific, boosted global temperatures. The new figures—recorded by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—are for average global surface air temperatures. Other data for average global sea temperatures show that these reached a record high in 2019. More than 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity is absorbed by the oceans.


Warming stripes (Photo: Ed Hawkins)Warming stripes (Photo: Ed Hawkins)
This (above) is a warming stripes graphic for 1850 (left side) to 2018 (right side). Each year is represented by a single stripe. Warming stripes clearly show the progress of global warming with blue stripes (cooler years) turning into mostly red stripes (warmer years) as the years go past.

Temperature spiral (Photo: Ed Hawkins)Temperature spiral (Photo: Ed Hawkins)
The average global temperature in 2019 was about 1.1°C above the average from 1850–1900, an early phase in industralization before large-scale fossil fuel burning began. Scientists warn that global warming beyond 1.5°C will trigger extreme weather conditions—some of which, including prolonged drought and severe storms—are already occurring—and melt polar ice, causing a significant rise in sea levels. Hundreds of millions of people will be affected.

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