WASHINGTON, D.C. – The last decade was the warmest on record, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NASA announced Thursday that Earth’s global surface temperatures in 2019 were the second warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880, only second to those in 2016.
“The decade that just ended is clearly the warmest decade on record,” said Gavin Schmidt, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). “Every decade since the 1960s clearly has been warmer than the one before.”
Since the 1880s, NASA says the average global surface temperature has risen and the average temperature is now more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit above that of the late 19th century.
“For reference, the last Ice Age was about 10 degrees Fahrenheit colder than pre-industrial temperatures,” wrote NASA.
Scientists have concluded that the increase in temperatures mostly has been driven by increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by human activities.
“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.
According to NASA, rising temperatures in the atmosphere and ocean are contributing to the continued mass loss from Greenland and Antarctica and to increases in some extreme events, such as heat waves, wildfires, intense precipitation.
NASA says not every region on Earth experienced similar amounts of warning because weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures.
“NOAA found the 2019 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 United States was the 34th warmest on record, giving it a 'warmer than average' classification,” wrote NASA. “The Arctic region has warmed slightly more than three times faster than the rest of the world since 1970.”
NASA’s temperature analyses incorporate surface temperature measurements from more than 20,000 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures, and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations.