WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Earth has just finished the warmest decade on record

Posted January 14, 2021 3:00 p.m. EST
Updated January 14, 2021 4:36 p.m. EST

Some of the approximately 1.3 million Joshua trees that burned in August’s Dome Fire in the Mojave National Preserve of California, Oct. 29, 2020. California’s redwoods, sequoias and Joshua trees define the American West and nature’s resilience through the ages. Wildfires this year were their deadliest test. (Max Whittaker/The New York Times)...

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released their annual assessment of global temperatures, and all the data shows that our warming climate continues.

The years from 2011 through 2020 marked the warmest decade on record, with records going back 140 years. Looking at the figure below, you can clearly see that warming trend. Notice in the top half of the figure, there is a lot more blue. You can’t see any blue at all starting with 1977.

2011-2020 warmest decade on record

Global temperatures have really warmed well above the averages of 1850-1900.

The numbers released on Thursday also show that 2020 was the hottest year in the global temperature record, statistically tied with the previous record holder, 2016.

Here in North Carolina, we are seeing warming in every season looking at the data since 1970. Winter has the strongest warming out of the four seasons.

Here are some ways YOU can help in the climate change fight:

1.    Voice your concerns to your elected officials

2.    Weatherize your home. Heating and cooling are among the biggest uses of energy. Seal any drafts and have adequate insulation.

3.    Invest in energy-efficient appliances.

4.    Reduce water waste. Saving water reduces carbon pollution.

5.    Actually eat the food you buy. ~10% of U.S. energy use goes into growing, processing, packaging and shipping food. ~40% ends up in a landfill.

6.    Buy LED bulbs. They use up to 80% less energy than conventional bulbs.

7.    Unplug rarely used items in your home.

8.    Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle.

9.    Maintain your cars. Properly inflated tires could save 1.2 billion gallons of gas each year.

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