In 2019, temperature records were broken in France, Germany and other countries; the Greenland ice sheet experienced extreme melting, and at the end of the year, high temperatures caused devastating fires that continue in Australia to this day.
European scientists confirmed that 2019 was extremely warm. The average annual global temperature was the second highest on record. Only 2016 was hotter, but not by much — less than one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit.
«The past five years have been the five warmest on record; the last decade has been the warmest on record. These are unquestionably alarming signs,» said Jean-Noël Thépaut, director of the EU-backed intergovernmental agency Copernicus Climate Change Service.
Last year the temperature was more than 0.6°C above the average for the period between 1981 and 2010, according to the agency’s report. Several months in 2019 had record-high average temperatures, with July being the hottest month on record averaging 0.04°C higher than July 2016.
The record holder among the hottest years is still 2016. Temperatures that year were influenced by the Pacific phenomenon El Niño. There was an El Niño last year as well, but it was weaker than in 2016.
Most regions experienced above-average warming in 2019, and it was significantly warmer than usual in some area, including the Arctic, Europe, South Africa and Australia.
In general, last year was the warmest on record for Europe, since all seasons were warmer than average, including incredibly hot summer with heatwaves in June and July. Single-day temperature records were set in Paris and other cities, and nuclear reactors were shut down in France and Germany because the cooling water became too warm.
Central and southeastern Canada were among the few regions that had below-average temperatures. The Arctic, which is warming faster than other parts of the world, experienced abnormal conditions last year. Vast areas of water, including the Chukchi, Barents and Kara Seas, remained ice free much longer than usual. And at the end of July, the European heat moved north to Greenland, which led to more intense melting of the ice sheet. The Greenland ice sheet lost a total of about 300 billion tons of ice, which is 60 billion tons more than the average for the past few years.
The Copernicus Climate Change Service’s analysis relies heavily on computer simulations, and its results reflect the ongoing upward trend in temperatures and climate change. Analyses by other agencies, including NASA and NOAA, will be published later this month, but the results are likely to be similar.