Earth just had its hottest January on record as climate change accelerates
A woman gestures as she attends a protest urging authorities to take emergency measures against climate change, in Paris, France, September 21, 2019.
Charles Platiau | Reuters
The Earth had its hottest January in recorded history last month, continuing an alarming upward trend as the climate crisis accelerates, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Global land and ocean temperatures in January exceeded all temperatures recorded in the past 141 years of data at 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.13 degrees Celsius, above the 20th century average. Record hot temperatures were seen in parts of Central and South America, Asia, Scandinavia, the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and the central and western Pacific Ocean.
The record continues a rising trend in temperatures as carbon dioxide emissions trap heat in the atmosphere and warm the planet. The four hottest Januaries on record have all occurred since 2016, and the 10 hottest Januaries have all occurred since 2002, NOAA said.
The past five years have been the five hottest on record, and the past decade was also the hottest on record. 2019 was the second-hottest year on record behind 2016, at more than 1 degree Fahrenheit, or about 0.6 degree Celsius, above the average between 1981 and 2010, according to Copernicus Climate Change Service.
2020 will likely to rank among the five warmest years on record, according to an analysis by scientists from the National Centers for Environmental Information.
Human-caused climate change has not shown any signs of decline. But United Nations scientists warn that warming starting at 2 degrees Celsius could trigger a global food crisis, as well as exacerbate flooding, widespread heatwaves and displacement of people.
Mike Rasnic sits on the front porch of his home which is surrounded by floodwater on March 22, 2019 in Craig, Missouri.
Scott Olson | Getty Images