Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2019 Adds More Data Points to the Constellation of Hot Data

The heat records keep adding to the mountain of data points that demonstrate that we are suffering from ever worsening global warming. This year (2019) is likely to be the second warmest year in the hottest decade on record. This year will also be remembered for the month of July which is the hottest month ever recorded. The months of June, September, October also broke records. November was the second hottest on record. Except for January of this year, each month in 2019 has been in the top three hottest on record.

We have seen 419 consecutive months of above average temperatures. We have not seen below average temperatures in 35 years. The five warmest decades on record have all occurred in the last 50 years. The most recent decade was the warmest in recorded history. Since the 1980s, each successive decade has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850. Nine of the ten warmest years have all occurred in the last decade and the five warmest years have all occurred in the past five years (NOAA's current global average yearly heat rankings: 1st: 2016, 2nd: 2015, 3rd: 2017, 4th: 2018, and 5th: 2014).

In 2019 we saw heatwaves break records all around the world. From India to Alaska, records are falling as record breaking heat is becoming the new normal. Europe suffered through brutal heatwaves that broke records in more than a dozen countries. According to the UN heatwaves were the deadliest weather hazard in the 2015-19 period, affecting all continents and setting new national temperature records. 

Australia is enduring some of the worst heatwaves in modern history. Australia may be among the most severe but it is not the only place setting records in December. Iceland also saw its highest ever temperature readings early in December. In the U.S. temperatures in Michigan broke records with temperatures approaching 50 F. Other parts of the northern U.S. also saw extremely warm temperatures including states like Ohio and Wisconsin. Many parts of Russia are also experiencing warm weather and little or no snow.

The summer of 2019 was the hottest on record in the Northern Hemisphere and the period between June and August was the hottest in the 140-year climate record. September through November and January through November were each the second hottest on record.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) provisional, State of the Global Climate report for 2019, the last five year period, "is currently estimated to be 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial (1850-1900) times and 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than 2011-2015". This is important in light of the fact that the Paris Agreement warns us to keep temperatures from warming beyond the 1.5 C above pre-industrial norms. Terrestrial heat records are not our only concern. We have seen ocean heat records that may be the climate canary in the marine coalmine. We also need to appreciate the gravity of Arctic heatwaves.

The extreme heat has wide ranging impacts. It is know to be related to wildfires, drought, extreme weather, sea level rise and crop failures. As people suffer through these severe climate impacts, the actions of the federal governments in both the U.S. and Australia are woefully inadequate. The inaction of world leaders is is accelerating warming and we are running out of time to stop it.  This year is destined to be a make or break year.

Related
Heat Records Tell Us What we Need to Know 
More Hot Data Contributes to Existential Concerns  
Heatwaves and the Climate Crisis
Slowing Emissions to Beat the Heat
Warming Temperatures are an Urgent Warning
Decades of Hot Data: The Harbingers of an Impending Climate Catastrophe

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