The past decade was the hottest on record around the world, with 2019 one of the warmest years ever, scientists have confirmed.
The past five years were also the warmest collectively since records began in the 19th century, all three weather centres used to measure global temperatures found.
Last year saw the second highest average global temperatures, with only 2016 being hotter thanks to a significant El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific.
One of the global data sets, known as HadCRUT4, is produced by scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre, the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and the UK National Centre for Atmospheric Science.
They use millions of air and sea surface temperature measurements across the world, including from land on all continents and all the oceans.
The data shows temperatures were 1.05C above pre-industrial levels, making 2019 the third warmest year, behind 2016 and 2015.
However, 2019 was found to be the second warmest on record by US agencies NAS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who also produce global data sets, both dating back to 1889.
The differences are largely down to how scientists account for the polar regions, where data is scant.
But, when taking evidence from the three records alongside estimates from re-analyses, 2019 was most likely the warmest year ever, Dr Colin Morice from the Met Office Hadley Centre said.
He said: “Our collective global temperature figures agree that 2019 joins the other years from 2015 as the five warmest years on record.
“Each decade from the 1980s has been successively warmer than all the decades that came before.
“2019 concludes the warmest ‘cardinal’ decade, those spanning years ending 0-9, in records that stretch back to the mid-19th century.”
He added: “While we expect global mean temperatures to continue to rise in general, we don’t expect to see year-on-year increases because of the influence of natural variability in the climate system.”
Looking at the UK alone, the Met Office also revealed the 2010s were the second warmest of the cardinal decades over the last 100 years of weather records.
The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia – where wildfires have been raging amid record temperatures – also recently confirmed 2019 was the warmest and driest year on record for the country.
Ocean heat is also at record levels and, the way emissions are going, the world could be 3C-5C warmer than pre-industrial times by 2100, World Meteorological Organisation secretary general Petteri Taalas said.
“Unfortunately, we expect to see much extreme weather throughout 2020 and the coming decades, fuelled by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” he said.
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