Climate scientists have noted it for years, but now it is official. The first decade of the 21st century was this planet’s hottest on record.
According to a report recently released by the World Meteorological Organization, Earth’s combined average temperature – over both land and sea surfaces – for the decade of 2001-2010 was 58.05°F. That is 0.85°F above the long-term norm. As hot as this period was, this new record does not come as much of a surprise. Every year in the decade except 2008 was among the top ten warmest on record.
Analyzing data from 139 countries, the report showed that the decade was also marked by extreme weather around the globe. Floods were the most frequent type of event, but droughts impacted the largest number of people worldwide. Massive hurricanes and scorching heat waves also caused serious problems. While improved early warning systems for storms and floods helped save countless lives, heat related deaths increased dramatically from the previous decade. In total, extreme weather events during this ten-year period claimed the lives of more than 370,000 people.