Jan 8, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Hottest decade on record

Earth inside a microwave illustration

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

2019 wasn't just the second-hottest year on record — the 2010s will go down as the hottest decade in human memory, per a new report.

Driving the news: The Copernicus Climate Change Service found "an unrelenting upward trend in temperatures as emissions of greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and change the climate," the N.Y. Times notes.

The big picture: "The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now the highest level in human history and probably has not been seen on this planet for 3 million years," WashPost notes.

  • 2019 "also brought troubling signs that natural systems [like permafrost and the Amazon] that serve to store huge quantities of carbon dioxide and methane ... may be faltering as temperatures increase."

By the numbers, per Copernicus:

  • "The five warmest years on record have all occurred in the last 5 years."
  • "Globally, the calendar year 2019 was 0.59°C warmer than the 1981–2010 average."
  • "2016 is the warmest calendar year on record, with a global temperature 0.63°C above that for 1981–2010.
  • "The third warmest calendar year, 2017, had a temperature 0.54°C above average."

What's next: November 2020 is shaping up to be a historic month on climate, Axios' Amy Harder reported.

  • The UN's annual conference will offer the most high-profile moment for the Paris deal since it was signed in 2015.
  • Trump is also likely to formally withdraw from Paris climate accords the day after the election.

Go deeper: Axios' special report on climate change

Go deeper