2019 Tipped To Be Second-Hottest Year Ever Recorded


Katy Evans

Katy is Managing Editor at IFLScience where she oversees editorial content from News articles to Features, and even occasionally writes some.

Managing Editor

October 2019 is the second-hottest October since records began, and the year as a whole is set to be the second-warmest ever. TWStock/Shutterstock 

After confirming Earth just experienced the second-hottest October ever, 2019 in its entirety looks set to be the second-hottest year ever recorded, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) latest data.  

In the last decade, Earth has broken many heat temperature records, none of them good. All five of the hottest years since records began 140 years ago occurred in the last five years. Now, NOAA’s monthly summary of global temperatures revealed that this October was the 418th consecutive month with temperatures higher than the 20th-century average, and there's a 95 percent chance the year will end as the second or third-warmest on record.


"Based on current anomalies and historical global annual temperature readings, it appears that it is virtually certain that 2019 will be a top 10 year," NOAA reported.

According to the report, the average global land and ocean surface temperature last month was 0.97°C (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average of 31.7°C (57.1°F) – only 0.06°C (0.11°F) less than the hottest October ever, which occurred in 2015.

Divided into Northern and Southern hemispheres, the land and ocean surface “departure from average” temperatures are broken down into 1.21°C (2.18°F) warmer for the Northern Hemisphere – tying with 2015 for warmest on record – and 0.74°C (1.33°F) above average for the Southern Hemisphere, making it the third warmest October after 2015 and 2018.


The report also highlighted the record-breaking loss of sea ice and snow cover for October 2019, revealing that last month was the smallest Arctic sea ice extent on record at 2.69 million square kilometers (1.04 million square miles) – 32.22 percent below the 1981-2010 average. This beat the previous October record set in 2012 by about 230,000 square kilometers (88,800 square miles).


NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) have already confirmed the 2019 summer Arctic sea ice extent was the second-lowest since records began. Now they have described October's ice extent as a “wild ride”. Last month’s daily sea ice extent went from being the third-lowest since satellite records began 41 years ago at the start of the month to the lowest ever at the end, averaging out at the second-lowest ever October extent, just above 2016’s record low.

The Antarctic fared slightly better in comparison, but it still wasn’t good news. It was the fourth consecutive month that the Antarctic sea ice extent was below average. At 17.84 million square kilometers (6.89 million square miles) of ice, it was the 10th smallest October sea ice extent on record; 259,000 square kilometers (100,000 square miles), or 1.38 percent lower than the 1981-2010 average.

The report also placed the likelihood that 2019 is set to be the second or third-hottest year on record at 95 percent, based on current and historical global data. There is a 0.01 percent chance it will be the hottest year, but a 99.9 percent chance it will be in the top 5 or 10.

“The year-to-date temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 0.94°C (1.69°F) above the 20th century average of 31.9°C (57.4°F) — the second-highest for January–October in the 140-year record,” NOAA said. “Only January-October 2016 was warmer.”