Published: Thu, January 16, 2020
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Earth had its hottest decade on record in 2010s

Earth had its hottest decade on record in 2010s

Last year was the world's second-warmest year on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.

While analyzing climate models and global temperature data from more than 20,000 resources - including weather stations and ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperature - NASA scientists were able to determine that the heat trends seem to be linked to the increased levels of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases that humans are constantly emitting into the atmosphere.

The Met Office says that 2020 is likely to continue this warming trend.

Research released by the agencies Wednesday shows how the planet has been getting warmer each decade since the 1960s, and the average surface temperature was 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above the average from 1951 to 1980.

The data also revealed the past five years were the warmest in the 170-year series. The only other years in the top 10 were 2005 and 1998. And 2016 still remains the hottest year ever recorded, with some help from the El Nino weather phenomenon.

The past decade has been the hottest on record, the United Nations said Wednesday, warning that the higher temperatures were expected to fuel numerous extreme weather events in 2020 and beyond.

Several scientists said the coming years will be even hotter, knocking these years out of the record books. Every decade since then has increased in average temp from the previous one.

"It's sobering to think we can break global temperature records in quick succession", said Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb.

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For the 21-year span that is considered a reasonable surrogate for pre-industrial conditions (1880-1900), the 2019 global land and ocean temperature was 2.07°F (1.15°C) above the average. He said that shows that the global goal can not be achieved.

"Man-made climate change is responsible for long-term warming - it is responsible for why the 2010 years were warmer than the 2000s, warmer than the 1990s, etc.", said climate researcher Texas A&M University Andrew Dessler in a e-mail. "What we observe here is exactly what our physical understanding tells us to expect and there is no other explanation".

The variation in rankings has to do with rainfall, he said.

These showed the average global temperature in 2019 was 1.1C above pre-industrial levels, creeping towards a globally agreed limit after which major changes to life on earth are expected.

The Earth is heating up, and according to new data, temperatures are only going to get hotter. Alaska was 6.2 degrees warmer than average, at 32.2 F. It was the first time in recorded history that Alaska's average annual temperature was above freezing. NASA and NOAA predict that 2020 has a 95 percent chance of being one of the five hottest years on record.

US President Donald Trump has cast doubt on mainstream climate science. As the space agency pointed out, this warming resulted in 2019's unprecedented fires and the ramped-up melting of Greenland's vast ice sheet.

In addition to rising temperatures, NOAA's report found that polar sea ice coverage was decreasing.

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