Last year was the second-hottest year ever recorded.
The only year that has been hotter than 2019 was 2016, which was only warmer by 0.04 degrees Celsius, according to a new report by the Copernicus Climate Change Service, the European Union's flagship climate monitoring organization.
The report found that the last five years and this last decade (2010-2019) was the warmest ever recorded, and 2019 was the hottest year Europe has ever experienced.
Global average temperatures over the last five years were between 1.1 to 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average, placing the Earth severely close to the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.
Scientists have cautioned that increased global average temperatures can lead to more extreme wildfires, floods, and food shortages around the world. While almost every region endured above-average temperatures in 2019, Europe, Australia, southern Africa, and the Arctic were hit the worst. Heatwaves in Europe in June and July broke temperature records. Last year was the hottest and driest year for Australia, which led to extensive bushfires that are still burning across the country.
The Arctic, which is essential to regulating global temperatures, experienced another year of unusual heat. Alaska and the Arctic experienced the warmest temperatures in the world, compared to the 1981 to 2010 average, according to the report.
The report reflects the fact that global warming generated by the burning of fossil fuels isn’t slowing down. Global concentrations of carbon dioxide—which is a main contributor to global warming—also increased in 2019.