Climate: 2019 was extreme – but 2020 will be even more extreme16. January 2020
Climate: 2019 was extreme – but 2020 will be even more extreme
New York, 16.1.2020
2019 was the second hottest year ever recorded, as NASA, NOAA and the World Meteorological Organization confirmed today. The news follows a similar announcement last week by the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a European Union initiative.
The only year exceeding 2019 was 2016, when average global surface temperatures were 0.04 degrees Celsius higher than 2019. This year also broke other records. Europe experienced its hottest year since records began. It was the warmest documented year for the oceans, according to a study published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. It was also the second hottest year in the US, NOAA reported last week.
It is no coincidence that 2019 was such an unusual year, experts say. Everything suggests that climate change is already changing the planet. “We are experiencing the effects of global warming literally in real time,” Stanford geoscientist Noah Diffenbaugh told reporters this week.
2019 was the 43rd consecutive year of above-average global land and ocean temperatures. The five hottest years since records began in 1880 have all occurred since 2015. The trend towards higher and higher temperatures and the certainty with which it is being documented is significant. “The main thing here is not really the ranking, but the consistency of the methodology and the consistency of the long-term trends,” said Gavin A. Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, during a conversation with reporters. He also said that these upward trends are essentially “100 percent” due to human activities.
The burning of fossil fuels has already heated the planet to 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels (in the second half of the 19th century). The Paris Climate Convention of 2015 was supposed to limit warming from a rise of 2 degrees, but scientists have since argued that by then the world could lose 99 percent of its coral reefs and 70 percent of its coasts could shrink below rising sea levels. The World Meteorological Organization predicted that by the end of the century, current carbon dioxide emissions would likely push the world to a warming of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius.
“The year 2020 has started where 2019 stopped – with weather and climate-related events of major significance. Australia had its hottest and driest year since records began in 2019, setting the scene for the massive bushfires that have been so devastating to people and property, wildlife, ecosystems and the environment,” said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a statement. “Unfortunately, we expect even more extreme weather in 2020 and the coming decades”.