Its official, 2019 was the second warmest year ever recorded on this planet. Only 2016 was warmer.
According to a report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for the year – over both land and sea surfaces – was 1.71°F above the 20th-century average.
2019 also marked the 43rd consecutive year with a global temperature above its long-term norm. That means every year since 1977 has posted a warmer than average annual temperature.
Looking at the map below, it is clear to see that heat dominated most of the planet last year. The only continent that did not post an annual temperature among its top three highest was North America. It ranked fourteenth. The state of Alaska, however, experienced its warmest year on record.
The exceptional warmth of 2019 is largely attributed to the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. While a weak El Niño was present at the beginning of the year, it dissipated by July with ENSO neutral conditions prevailing afterward.
Looking at the bigger picture, the five warmest years on record have occurred since 2015, and nine of the ten warmest have taken place since 2005. The only year from the last century included on the top ten list is 1998, which ranks tenth.
As greenhouse gases – the main driver of global warming – continue to spew into the atmosphere, temperatures will continue to rise and records will likely continue to fall.
Global temperature records date back to 1880.