Climate Crisis: Greenhouse gas emissions must peak soon to avoid severe global climate change, latest research shows

After the hottest decade on record, since the 1980's the latest research from the World Meteorological Organisation have released their statement of the global climate for 2019.

The statement receives input from several climate researching bodies, leading international experts from across the globe to produce the latest report on the Earth's climate.

The average global temperature at the end of 2019 was 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels, second to the record in 2016 when a very strong El Niño event contributed to higher global temperatures.

When we think of climate change, the biggest factor we always think about is the heat. How temperatures are set to rise, but this is only one indicator of ongoing climate change.

  • Changes in the global rainfall distribution impact several countries

  • Rising sea levels at an advanced rate, largely due to the thermal expansion of the ocean as well as the melting of the largest glaciers, like in Greenland and Antarctica. This is exposing coastal areas and islands to a greater risk of flooding

Atmospheric CO2 levels at the Mauna Loa Observatory Credit: NOAA

Climate Indicators

  • Greenhouse gases - Early data for 2019 suggests that the greenhouse gases, those gases which trap heat and help to warm the planet - Carbon Dioxide, Methane and Nitrous Oxide - have continued to increase.

  • Ocean's have warmed - this contributes to more than 30% of sea-level rise due to the water physically expanding. This is having knock-on effects on the ocean currents, storm tracks and the melting of floating ice shelves.

  • Sea Level Rise - from satellites we've seen a global rise, mainly due to the melting of ice sheets and in 2019, the sea level reached its highest ever value since 1993.

  • Marine ecosystems are suffering as the oceans become more acidic destroying coral reefs.

  • Sea Ice is declining in both Arctic and Antarctica. For the Arctic, September's average extent (the lowest of the year) was third lowest on record.

  • Greenland Ice Sheet - 2019 was the 7th lowest on record.

Regional variability in Sea Level trends over 1993-2019 using satellite altimetry Credit: Capernicus Marine & Climate Services

But what impacts did we see during 2019 from an ever-changing climate?


  • Huge floods and more than 2,200 lives lost across India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar from the monsoon, due to higher than average rainfall

  • The contiguous US saw the highest amount of rainfall from July 2018 to June 2019, with an economic loss of US$20 billion.

  • Flooding in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay estimated US$2.5 billion


  • Southeast Asia had ts driest year on record, linked to a strong positive Indian Ocean Dipole (variations in sea surface temperature in the west Indian Ocean).

  • South Africa, Central America, and parts of South America received unusually low rainfall amounts


  • Australia saw extreme heat. The 2018-2019 Summer was the hottest on record with a very hot December 2019 too. On December 18th 2019, the daily average maximum was 41.9°C

  • Europe saw two major heatwaves. National records were broken in France (46.0°C), Germany (42.6°C), the Netherlands (40.7°C), Belgium Finland (33.2°C).

UK's Highest temperature on record Credit: Met Office


  • Above-average wildfires were experienced in Siberia and Alaska, with some fires being seen across parts of the Arctic which is extremely rare

  • Brazil's Amazonia region was slightly above average whilst South America was the highest since 2019.

  • Australia saw an exceptionally prolonged severe fire season at the end of 2019 which continued into 2020. 33 deaths were reported, 2000 homes destroyed with 7 million hectares of New South Wales and Victoria being burnt which lead to an increase in CO2 levels too.

Australian Bushfires Credit: PA

Tropical Cyclones

  • The activity globally was above average. 72 Tropical cyclones were seen in the Northern Hemisphere and 27 in the southern hemisphere.

  • Tropical Cyclone Iai made landfall in Mozambique on March 15th and was one of the strongest on the east African coast

  • Hurricane Dorian, which made landfall as a category 5 in the Bahamas caused widespread disruption as it remained near-stationary for 24 hours