Home NewsEnvironmental Global Arctic & Antarctica 2019 was 2nd hottest year on record for Earth and concludes warmest decade on record, scientists confirm

2019 was 2nd hottest year on record for Earth and concludes warmest decade on record, scientists confirm

Three leading separate sets of annual global temperature figures for 2019 have confirmed that the past decade was the warmest on record and that 2019 was the second warmest year on record.

NASA – the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration – and NOAA– the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – have published their global mean temperature estimates for 2019.

Scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre, the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and the UK National Centre for Atmospheric Science produce the HadCRUT4 dataset, which is used to estimate global temperature.

The balance of evidence using multiple data sets suggests that 2019, a year without a strong classical El Niño, is the second warmest year for annual global temperatures in records that begin in 1850. Only 2016 has been warmer, a year when temperature was boosted by a significant El Niño.

The HadCRUT4 global temperature series shows that the average for 2019 as a whole was 1.05±0.1 °C above pre-industrial levels, taken as the average over the period 1850-1900. 2019 is nominally the third warmest year in the HadCRUT4 series.

All three datasets (NASA, NOAA and HadCRUT4) agree that the last five years were the warmest five years since each global record began. NASA and NOAA have positioned 2019 as the second warmest year in their records.

Differences between the various estimates arise largely from the way that the data-sparse polar regions are handled. Taking the evidence from the three records, together with other estimates from reanalyses, suggests that 2019 was most likely the second warmest year.

Dr Colin Morice of the Met Office Hadley Centre said:

“Our collective global temperature figures agree that 2019 joins the other years from 2015 as the five warmest years on record.

“Each decade from the 1980s has been successively warmer than all the decades that came before. 2019 concludes the warmest ‘cardinal’ decade (those spanning years ending 0-9) in records that stretch back to the mid-19th century.”

Dr Morice concluded:

“While we expect global mean temperatures to continue to rise in general, we don’t expect to see year-on-year increases because of the influence of natural variability in the climate system.”

On a more regional level, this confirmation follows close on the heels of the recent Met Office announcement that the 2010s have been the second warmest of the cardinal decades over the last 100 years of UK weather records.

The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia has also recently confirmed that 2019 was the warmest and driest year on record in Australia. 2019 was also one of the warmest years on record for Europe, including a record-breaking summer heatwave.

The HadCRUT4 global temperature dataset is compiled from many millions of air and sea surface temperature measurements taken across the globe, from all continents and all oceans. The regional variations in temperature are themselves informative in understanding the mechanisms that cause warming in response to the continuing build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Prof Tim Osborn, Director of Research at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, said:

“While we know that human activities are causing the globe to warm, it is important to measure this warming as accurately as possible. We are confident that the world has warmed by about 1.0 °C since the late nineteenth century because different methods of working out the global temperature give very similar results.”

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