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News18 » Tech
2-min read

Australia Wildfires to Become a Routine? Last Year Was Earth’s Second Warmest Ever

NASA, NOAA and WMO scientists say that maintaining the current CO2 emission levels mean a temperature increase of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by the end of century.

Vishal Mathur | @vishalmathur85

Updated:January 16, 2020, 10:11 AM IST
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Australia Wildfires to Become a Routine? Last Year Was Earth’s Second Warmest Ever
(Image: World Meteorological Organization)

Perhaps you weren’t moved when there was irrefutable proof that the ice caps are melting. You perhaps brushed aside the facts when scientists illustrated how the temperatures are rising every year. There have also been arguments about the reason for the devastating wildfires in Australia, and even California before that. You might want to listen now. NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have new data which suggests that 2019 was the second warmest year ever on record for our planet. This means that since the records have been maintained since 1880, 2019 now follows 2016 as the two of the hottest years for earth. The reasons for this? Scientists relied on climate models and global temperature data stats to reach the conclusion that the temperatures are rising mainly because of increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, produced by human activities.

In fact, the past five years have consistently been the warmest in the past 140 years. “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,” says GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. Data suggests that since the 1880s, the average global surface temperature has risen and the average temperature is now more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (a bit more than 1 degree Celsius) more than what was recorded in the late 19th century. “We crossed over into more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit 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,” Schmidt said.

NASA, NOAA and WMO say that the rising atmospheric temperatures as well as the ocean temperatures are contributing to the continued mass loss from Greenland and Antarctica. This is also the reason for heat waves, wildfires and intense precipitation. NASA’s temperature analyses incorporate surface temperature measurements from more than 20,000 weather stations around the world, the ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures, as well as the temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations.

The scientists are warning us again. “On the current path of carbon dioxide emissions, we are heading towards a temperature increase of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by the end of century,” says WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

The research lists out what they call “significant climate anomalies” of 2019. These include the Asian region which registered its third highest temperature in the past 110-years, with only 2015 and 2017 being warmer. The Indian Ocean also saw above average activity—the north Indian Ocean recorded 8 storms and 6 cyclones—of which for the first time 3 had maximum sustained winds of 100 knots or more. The south Indian Ocean saw 16 storms and 13 cyclones. Africa also recorded its third warmest year, after 2016 and 2010. After a record warm year in 2018, Europe clocked 2019 as the second warmest year with most countries registering new all-time high temperatures. North America had its 14th warmest year on record, while the beautiful Alaska recorded its warmest year ever. This is not a country specific or a region specific problem.

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