NOAA & NASA: 2019 Was 2nd Hottest Year on Record for Earth

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Credit: NOAA

NOAA finds ocean heat content was the highest in recorded history

Earth’s warming trend continued in 2019, making it the second-hottest year in NOAA’s 140-year climate record just behind 2016.

The world’s five warmest years have all occurred since 2015 with nine of the 10 warmest years occurring since 2005, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). 

It was also the 43rd consecutive year with global land and ocean temperatures, at least nominally, above average. 

The average temperature across the globe in 2019 was 1.71 degrees F (0.95 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average and just 0.07 of a degree F (0.04 of a degree C) cooler than the 2016 record. 

This animation shows monthly global temperatures compared to the 1981-2010 average for January through December 2019. The last slide shows the departure from average for the entire year. (NOAA NCEI and NOAA

Ocean heat content, which describes the amount of heat stored in the upper-levels of the ocean, was the highest ever recorded. High ocean-heat content can contribute to sea-level rise.

2019 as ranked by other scientific organizations

NASA scientists, who conducted a separate but similar analysis, concurred with NOAA’s ranking. NASA also found that 2010-2019 was the hottest decade ever recorded.

Scientists from the United Kingdom Met Office determined that 2019 was one of the top three hottest years on record, and the World Meteorological Organization also ranked 2019 second warmest for the globe.

A map of the world noting some of the most significant weather climate events of 2019. For more details, see the bullets below in this story and at

More NOAA findings for 2019

  • The declining state of sea ice: Polar sea ice coverage continued its downward trend in 2019. Both the Arctic and Antarctic oceans recorded their second-smallest average annual sea-ice coverage during the 1979–2019 period of record.
  • December 2019 was near-record warm: The month was, in fact, Earth’s second-hottest December on record, logging an average temperature 1.89 degrees F (1.05 degrees C) above the 20th-century average. Only December 2015 was warmer.
  • Continents baked: Parts of central Europe, Asia, Australia, southern Africa (including the island of Madagascar), New Zealand, Alaska, Mexico, and eastern South America had record-high average land temperatures in 2019.
  • The annual globally averaged sea surface temperature was the second-highest on record at 1.39 degrees F (0.77 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average and just behind 2016.
  • Northern Hemisphere snow cover was close to average in 2019, at 9.57 million square miles.

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