NASA says 2019 was the second warmest year ever recorded

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Climate change has been a major topic of conversation, especially amid the devastating wildfires in Australia, which have claimed the lives of dozens of people, displaced thousands from their homes, and killed what wildlife experts say are more than a billion creatures.

Today's data doesn't come as a huge surprise, with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) signalling at the start of last December that 2019 likely marked the end of the warmest decade on record.

The figures from the Geneva-based WMO crunches several datasets including from Nasa and the UK Met Office.

Past year saw two major heat waves hit Europe in June and July, with a new national record of 46C set in France on 28 June.

"As a climate scientist, this is not surprising", she said.

This sort of uncomfortable trade-off will cause ruffles around the world in coming decades as climate change presents an increasing challenge to politics-as-usual.

WMO said its research also confirmed data released by the European Union's climate monitor last week showing that 2019 was the second hottest on record, after 2016. "2019 concludes the warmest "cardinal" decade (those spanning years ending 0-9) in records that stretch back to the mid-19th century".

Ocean Temperatures Have Reached a Record-Breaking High
That level of warming, the paper found, is equal to 228,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (228 Sextillion) Joules of heat. Scientists believe it decimated marine life ranging from plankton to whales and killed 100 million cod.

Deke Arndt, chief of the global monitoring branch of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, said ocean temperature is an important measure of overall trends because roughly 90% of warming from greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is transferred to the ocean. That's when people began pumping massive volumes of carbon into the atmosphere via fossil fuels, and we know that carbon-containing compounds are potent greenhouse gasses.

"It's sobering to think that we might be breaking global temperature records in quick succession", said Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb. "We're like global doctors, constantly recording the Earth's vitals".

Conservationists said the United Nations agency´s findings were to be expected.

NASA's temperature record matches the results of other research agencies, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and draws on data collected from over 20,000 weather stations. 2019 was also one of the warmest years on record for Europe, including a record-breaking summer heatwave.

"Man-made climate change is responsible for long-term warming - it is responsible for why the 2010 years were warmer than the 2000s, warmer than the 1990s, etc.", said climate researcher Texas A&M University Andrew Dessler in a e-mail.

The World Meteorological Organization, which based its findings on analysis of leading worldwide datasets, said increases in global temperatures had already had dire consequences, pointing to "retreating ice, record sea levels, increasing ocean heat and acidification, and extreme weather". This was the biggest increase in the last decade. This suggests it will be a warmer year than the one just passed.

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