2019 Was the Second Hottest Year on Record
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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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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