A Year of Records and Near-Records: 2019 Among the Three Hottest on Earth

Boats are pulled ashore as smoke and wildfires rage behind Lake Conjola, Australia, on Jan. 2, 2020. (Robert Oerlemans via AP)

(CN) — All signs point to 2019 being one of the three hottest years on record, while a new report says Earth’s hottest month on record was July 2019.

Warming oceans, heat waves, prolonged droughts, melting ice caps and tropical cyclones were all above average last year when compared to data reaching back to the mid-1800s and greenhouse gas concentrations jumped to record highs, according to the State of the Climate in 2019 report published by the American Meteorological Society on Wednesday.

All six of the warmest years on record have occurred since 2014, according to the report.

If 2019 wasn’t the hottest year on record for nations across the globe, it was the wettest year on record or the second warmest.

Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore recorded 2019 as the warmest, along with South Africa, while Europe recorded 2019 as the fourth warmest on record. Europe’s four warmest years on record have also occurred since 2014.

Mexico recorded its second warmest year in a record that spans 48 years, according to the report, while Alaska reported the warmest year in its 95-year record.

Besides, record heat, drought conditions worsened across North and South America during the same year that Canada saw a catastrophic spring flood along the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers and the Horn of Africa saw widespread flooding due to a warming Indian Ocean dipole, also known as the Indian Niño.

“One of the touchpoints of 2019’s climate — the Indian Ocean — may turn the globe upside-down for our North American readership,” the study authors say in a statement accompanying the report. “The body of water, cleaved into distinct halves marked by the strongest Indian Ocean Dipole in more than two decades, behaved as something of a center of gravity in this report, as many of the extremes and related phenomena seemed to emanate from it.”

The ripple effect from the Indian Ocean caused nuisance flooding, unusual chlorophyll concentrations, tropical cyclone activity in the Arabian Sea, historic fire and drought in Australia and two cyclones in southeast Africa that followed one after the other, according to the study authors.

Tropical storms threw their weight around and lingered longer than in previous years, ripping through Central America and the Caribbean, including Trinidad, Tobago, Dominica and Puerto Rico. On average, there are 82 tropical storms annually according to data from the 1981-2010 storm seasons, but 2019 saw 96 named storms.

All the warning bells are sounding off according to the report including a near-record warmth in the Antarctic, which saw its second warmest year on record behind 1980. Global sea levels continued to rise, and alpine glaciers saw their 32nd year of mass loss.

Nearly 530 authors and editors from 61 counties participated to create the 435-page report.

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