Reports from the NOAA and NASA are finished for the previous year, giving the world insight into the hottest year on record around the world compared to decades prior. As expected, warming trends are slowly on a decline thanks to eco-friendly initiatives to reduce carbon emissions.
That isn’t saying much when looking at Climate Change as a whole, but it seems to be a step in the right direction. The hottest year on record is in the past now, and a large deficit between the previous year and the worst scorcher in recorded history is large enough to rejoice just a little bit.
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If you’re curious about how and why these yearly temperatures are measured, then this is article was made just for you. Here’s everything you need to know about the top 10 hottest years on record and how they changed the world.
10 Hottest Years On Record
From 1998 to 2012, warming rates were relatively slow. They existed, but the increase was less than it had been for the past three decades. Volcanic eruptions, low solar activity, and natural variables played a large part in this.
Despite this cooler atmosphere, climate change trends remained in effect. Based on the records taken since 1880, 1998 was on track with the continual incline of a warmer Earth. This was when then vice president Al Gore began talking adamantly about Global Warming in the U.S., though an international panel was formed around the issue ten years prior.
Just one year prior, Gore forged the Kyoto Protocol, the first climate change treaty, promising the world that the United States would fight against carbon emissions. 1998 signifies the first united effort from the civilizations of the world to combat their rapidly warming planet, however small the number of participating countries may have been.
From 2000 to 2009, the world experienced its hottest decade to date. Near-record temperatures in 2009 sparked concern and controversy across the globe as nations debated the science behind climate change. The U.S. was lucky enough to receive a cooler year thanks to cold air from the Arctic sweeping up into the Americas, but that only accounts for 1.5% of the world’s area.
Scientists around the world now fully agreed that carbon dioxide was the issue, trapping greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and warming the Earth, thanks to extensive study since the 90s. This year also experienced La Nina, a cooling effect the opposite of El Nino.
La Nina happens when colder ocean surface temperatures keep global temps from rising, while El Nino does the exact opposite. 1998, for instance, experience an El Nino effect. This deviation, however, is only 0.04 degrees.
Regardless of La Nina’s effect, the world experienced numerous catastrophes. Floods, hurricanes, and tropical storms took their toll around the world. Blizzards wreaked havoc in the United States, and wildfires swept across multiple countries.
While temperatures stayed on trend in 2013, causing no more panic than usual, one major event did take place. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere reached 400 parts per million, then surpassed this record in just a few months.
Scientist report that such a concentration hadn’t existed in several million years, back when there was no ice to be found in the Arctic and the sea level was easily 40 meters higher than it is today. It was a sobering moment, one that showed the world its efforts weren’t enough.
That same year, a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed that humans were entirely responsible for this warming trend. Without restricting emissions, the report showed, extreme weather was on the horizon. Draughts, floods, heatwaves, and hurricanes would kill billions.
This was the first report in five years from the IPCC. It talked about Sea Level Rise dangers, increased acidification of the oceans causing species extinction, and set the standard of calculating the temperature rise to 30 years or more. While all of this was an immense push forward, scientists then and now believe the estimates in the report were underrated at best.
Climate Change began to take over the term Global Warming around this time. Reports and studies showed that a warming trend had been increasing since 1970 at a rapid rate, nearing the increase for the entire century.
The Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change conference was held this year, examining the link between greenhouse gasses and global warming. It explored possible impacts, how the climate could be stabilized, and what an increased concentration of CO2 might look like. Over 200 renowned scientists from 30 countries attended. Once the conference ended, there was no question that greenhouse gasses were the culprit behind rising temperatures.
Mid-Atlantic cities broke their all-time snowfall records, Tennessee flooded from excessive rainfall, and heat waves grappled the Middle-East as well as Russia, and the U.S. Monsoons shook Pakistan, and bodies of water along with sea ice reached record lows. Even with a La Nina effect taking place, the world was hot in 2010.
The United Nations held a climate change conference in Mexico that year, which created the Green Climate Fund and Climate Technology Centre network. Countries of the UN agreed that climate change represents an enormous threat to humankind, that this phenomenon is scientifically verified, and that greenhouse emissions needed to be cut down.
Four years later, numerous countries were working hard to reduce rising temperatures and sea levels. The IPCC released the AR5 Climate Change report, detailing impacts as well as necessary adaptations while exposing vulnerabilities. Organizations like WHO and countries around the world were passing legislation and hitting the ground to do everything in their power to stop climate change trends.
2014 set a precedent for a global agreement. While several committees and conferences had been in held in the past, only a handful of countries under the UN were on board at this time. Talk continued into 2015 when real global change finally occurred.
This is the year to celebrate (at least a little). The average global temperature during 2018 was 1.42 degrees higher than average in the 20th century, marking a 42-year consecutive increase in global temperatures, but that reading is down from 2017 and prior years.
While global efforts to reduce carbon emissions helped bring the global temperature down, the effects of a higher degree were still felt. In the U.S. 14 disasters rocked the country. All in all, they tallied a devastating bill of $91 billion from the damage they caused.
Hurricane Michael alone caused $25 billion in damages, followed closely behind by natural fires and their $24 billion cost. These catastrophes claimed a known 247 lives, severely injuring millions of others.
Once again, winter was more of a wet season than a snowy one. Temperatures reached their 14th highest in the country (1934 is still the United State’s hottest year on record), and the majority of the country stayed warmer on average.
What’s important to note is that this year is a step in the right direction. If the world can continue to work together to decrease fossil fuel emissions, this trend of lowering the global temperature can continue.
2017 started extremely warm, with ocean temperatures higher than average in January. Each of the first four months took second place for warmest of their month ever recorded. While things looked bleak, efforts to reduce emissions ended up helping tremendously.
The absence of an El Nino episode (naturally increased temperatures worldwide), temperatures began dropping after they reached a peak until the final four months. Those last four ranked the hottest of their month on record. The only reason 2017 landed number three on the list was slightly cooler summer season.
The importance of 2017 was showing countries who had yet to accept the science behind climate change that something needed to be done. It couldn’t be the effort of just a small handful of countries if warming and Sea Level Rise trends were to change. While not everyone is on board today, more countries are than not.
Immense highs and lows are found on record in 2015, recently the hottest year on record before losing its position to 2016. It held the hottest January to date, a million-year high carbon dioxide level, and an official agreement from over 200 nations to minimize the effects of climate change.
It set a goal of reducing annual temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius and stated that carbon emissions must reach zero by 2070. To accomplish these tasks, governments would be held accountable for their emissions and encouraged to adopt renewable energy.
Even Pope Francis was on board, calling for countries to take action. Barack Obama became the first world leader to reject and infrastructure project because of climate change, and the world began to take a closer look at the devastation humankind’s need for energy causes within various ecosystems.
2016 is the standing hottest year on record. Solar panels were now in mass production, shoreline flooding exposed the damage already caused by CO2 emissions, and even the cold-weather sports industry realized how global warming impacted its business. Smoke waves wreaked havoc, severely impacting people’s health, as well in 2016.
The world went from one hottest year straight into the next thanks in part to an El Nino effect. Weather patterns were disrupted, causing catastrophes across the globe. Despite catastrophic events, communities around the world saw their citizens embrace lifestyle changes to do their part.At the same time, anti-environmentalist sentiment grew. Newly-elect president Trump called climate change a hoax, and citizens across the country began railing against changes to their lifestyle. Company heads pushed towards “clean-coal” instead of renewable energy, while individuals adopted lifestyle changes that directly impact the environment out of spite.