A helicopter passes smoke from a wildfire on July 3, 2019 south of Talkeetna, Alaska. Alaska experienced its record-high temperatures in 2019. Lance King / Getty Images
Last year’s brutal heat waves that swept through Europe, caused wildfires in Alaska and Siberia, and have left Australia as a tinderbox registered as the second hottest year ever — 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.04 degrees Celsius cooler than 2016, according to scientists at the Copernicus Climate Change Service, an intergovernmental agency supported by the European Union, as The New York Times reported.
It was the hottest year Europe has ever endured. The report also found that the last five years and the last decade were the warmest ever recorded.
Also, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its 2019 U.S. climate report yesterday, which found that Alaska had its warmest year ever, and the continental U.S. had its second-wettest year on record, which led to flooding in the Midwest and Mississippi Delta. The Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan all had their wettest year on record in 2019, according to NOAA, as the The Weather Channel reported.
The Copernicus report out of Europe also found that global average temperatures from 2015-2019 were between 1.1 and 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, putting the planet within striking distance of the perilous threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, according to CNN. Scientists have warned that once the planet crosses 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages the world will face an increase in extreme weather events, flooding, wildfires, and food shortages. At that level, the world will still see a loss of 70 to 90 percent of coral reefs, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as the HuffPost reported.
“The past five years have been the five warmest on record; the last decade has been the warmest on record,” Jean-Noël Thépaut, director of Copernicus services, said in a statement, as The New York Times reported. “These are unquestionably alarming signs.”
In Europe, six countries — Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Luxembourg — saw record-setting temperatures in their June and July heat waves in 2019.
The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia said 2019 was the hottest and driest year on record, where temperatures were 1.52 degrees Celsius above normal, fueling the ongoing brushfires, as CNN reported.
While those spikes and new records were alarming, no place warmed more than the Arctic and Alaska when compared to 1981-2000 average temperatures. The Arctic and Alaska are critical in regulating global temperatures, as CNN reported.
The NOAA report found that for the first time on record, Alaska’s annual average temperature was just above freezing at 32.2 degrees Fahrenheit, 6.2 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average. The previous record-warm year was 2016 when average temperatures were 31.9 degrees, as The Weather Channel reported.
Temperatures in 2016 were unusually high because of a powerful El Niño, where changes in sea temperatures, atmospheric pressure and winds in the equatorial Pacific led to warmer temperatures. The 2019 El Niño was far weaker than the one in 2016, according to The New York Times.
The highest average temperature in the U.S. was in Marathon in the Florida Keys, which set a new record in 2019, with an average temperature of 81.7 degrees. It was the highest annual average temperature for any one location in U.S. history, according to the The Weather Channel.
Nearby Key West and Miami also saw their warmest year on record, as the The Weather Channel reported.
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