Global temperatures this year are on track to be among the highest ever recorded, NOAA said after reporting that the first three months of 2020 were the planet’s second warmest in 141 years of record-keeping.
The average global land and ocean surface temperature from January through March was 2.07 degrees Fahrenheit (1.15 degrees Celsius) above the average since 1880, NOAA reported. The average temperature so far this year is the second warmest ever recorded, behind only the first three months of 2016.
“The year 2020 is almost certain to rank among the five warmest years on record,” NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) said in its monthly global climate report.
2019 was the second warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880, and the 2010s were by far the warmest decade.
The unusually high temperatures this year are “in part due to human-caused climate change,” NCEI said.
This year has been especially warm in Eastern Europe and Asia, where average temperatures were at least 7.2 F above the historical average, NOAA reported. South America and the Caribbean also saw unusual warmth.
In the United States, the average temperature from January through March was the eighth warmest since 1895, according to NCEI records.
Temperatures were particularly high in the Southeast, averaging 54.6 F. That fell just short of the January-March record of 54.7 F, which was set in 2012, but was 5.5 F above the 126-year average.
Florida set a record with an average temperature of 65.4 F in January through March, eclipsing the record of 65.1 F set in 1990.
North Carolina, with an average temperature of 49.7 F so far this year, tied a record set in 1990.
The Union of Concerned Scientists warned yesterday that high temperatures in Florida “could require residents to spend more money on energy use in their homes at a time when unemployment has skyrocketed” because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the state’s utilities have voluntarily paused electricity shut-offs, there is no guarantee these policies will continue throughout the duration of this crisis, which makes a state-issued mandatory moratorium on all utility shut-offs so desperately warranted,” the group said in a statement.
The first three months in the United States were also extremely wet, with the nation receiving an average of 8.02 inches of precipitation, which is 1.06 inches above normal.
NOAA warned last month about widespread riverine flooding in the interior U.S., particularly in the Missouri River Valley and the Mississippi River Valley.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from E&E News. E&E provides daily coverage of essential energy and environmental news at www.eenews.net.