Climate change: Scientists say last decade was warmest on record

They found the Earth’s global surface temperatures in 2019 were the second warmest since modern record-keeping began in 1880

Scientists have confirmed the 10 years until the end of 2019 was the warmest decade on record, driven my “man-made climate change”.

Experts from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the UK Met Office found the Earth’s global surface temperatures last year were the second warmest since modern record-keeping began in 1880, with the past five years the warmest of the last 140 years.

Temperatures in 2019 were 0.98°C warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, according to the scientists.

They found the rise in temperatures has mostly been driven by increased carbon emissions into the atmosphere and other greenhouse gases produced by human activities.

They add the rising temperatures in the atmosphere and oceans are contributing to the continued “mass loss” from Greenland and Antarctica and to increases in some extreme events, such as heatwaves, wildfires and intense precipitation.

Gavin Schmidt, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) said: “The decade that just ended is clearly the warmest decade on record. Every decade since the 1960s clearly has been warmer than the one before.

“We crossed over into more than 2°F warming territory in 2015 and we are unlikely to go back. 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.”

Weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures so not every region on Earth experienced similar amounts of warming.

NOAA found the 2019 annual mean temperature for 48 states in the US was the 34th warmest on record while the Arctic region is said to have warmed slightly more than three times faster than the rest of the world since 1970.

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