May 16, 2019

Earth just had its second-hottest April on record

Global average temperature anomalies during April 2019, when compared to 1951-1980. Image: NASA GISS.

The globe just experienced its second-warmest April since reliable instrument data began in 1880, according to NASA, NOAA and the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Why it matters: The unusually warm April follows a top 3 hottest March, and indicates that the Earth is headed for yet another top 3 warmest year on record. In addition, Arctic sea ice extent reached a record low for April, NOAA reports. This follows recent news that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere edged past 415 parts per million for the first time in human history, likely becoming the highest level on record in at least 3 million years.

Human activities, such as burning fossil fuels for energy and chopping down forests, are causing carbon dioxide levels to increase at a quickening pace.

Details: According to NASA, April saw a global temperature anomaly of 0.99ºC, or 1.8ºF, above the 20th century average. This was cooler than only April 2016, when a powerful El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean helped add to a natural boost in global temperatures that were already elevated due to human-caused climate change.

  • Right now, a weak El Niño event, featuring unusually warm water in the tropical Pacific Ocean along with an increase in showers and thunderstorm activity near the equator, is helping to add additional heat to the atmosphere.

The Arctic, including Greenland and Siberia, was particularly mild during April, and the Greenland melt season got off to an especially early start.

  • A recent study found that the world's largest island has shed ice nearly 6 times faster in the past decade when compared to the 1980s.

The context: Last year was Earth's 4th-warmest year on record, coming in behind 2016 — the planet's warmest recorded year — as well as 2015 and 2017.

  • The world's 5 warmest years have all occurred since 2014.
  • 9 of the 10 warmest years on record since reliable data began in 1880 have occurred since 2005.
  • Global carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas ticked up in 2018 to the highest levels in recorded history, according to the Global Carbon Project and the International Energy Agency.
  • According to Berkeley Earth researcher Robert Rohde, carbon dioxide levels have "increased more in the last 15 years than they did in over 9,000 years prior" to when fossil fuels were first introduced.
  • Climate scientists have shown that urgent, significant cuts to greenhouse gases are needed in order to prevent global warming from causing potentially devastating impacts around the world.

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U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 62,300 U.S. health care workers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and at least 291 have died from the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday. COVID-19 had infected about 9,300 health professionals when the CDC gave its last update on April 17.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 5,589,626 — Total deaths: 350,453 — Total recoveries — 2,286,956Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 1,680,913 — Total deaths: 98,913 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

There are no COVID-19 patients in hospital in New Zealand, which reported just 21 active cases after days of zero new infections. A top NZ health official said Tuesday he's "confident we have broken the chain of domestic transmission."

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.9 million tests).