Unprecedented warming will dominate the coming decade, according to a new study, which said every year is likely to rank among the planet’s 10 hottest.
Global temperatures are already consistently breaking records, with 2016 the warmest ever followed by 2019, data from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) show.
That trend is likely to continue through 2028 with a 75-percent chance that every year will feature in the top 10 hottest of all time, according to the study submitted to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
While there could be some cooler years because of natural variability, they’re unlikely to disrupt the broader global trend for rising temperatures, according to the analysis, which sees a more than 99-percent chance that most years in the next decade will rank in the top 10 of all time.
The study, which analyzes temperature fluctuations in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data since 1975, will add to growing alarm over global warming, and the impact of climate change on the planet.
Just last week, the Copernicus Climate Change Service reported that January this year was Europe’s hottest.
“It would likely take an abrupt climate shift for even a few years within the next decade to register outside the top 10 warmest years,” the authors of the study, including NOAA climate scientist Anthony Arguez wrote. “This is a testament to the exceptional warmth experienced over the last few decades, punctuated by the last four years.”
Because of the annual fluctuations, the authors of the study recommend that global monitoring analysis incorporates a “temperature score” of “1 to 10” in order to differentiate warmer and colder years relative to the long-term trend.
According to their analysis, 2016 and 2015 would have a score of 10 while 2018 would rate “5.”
Penguin colonies shrinking in Antarctica
Meanwhile, chinstrap penguins are declining fast in Antarctica, and researchers are blaming climate change.
Every single colony of chinstrap penguins on Elephant Island in the Antarctic peninsula has shrunk from the last time it was surveyed five decades ago, according to the environmental group Greenpeace.
Scientists on board of a Greenpeace expedition to Antarctica found that the number of penguins on the island has dropped almost 60 percent since the last survey in 1971. Some colonies were down by as much as 77 percent.
“Such significant declines suggest that the Southern Ocean’s ecosystem is fundamentally changed from 50 years ago,” said Heather Lynch, associate professor of ecology and evolution at Stony Brook University, and one of the leaders of the expedition. “While several factors may have a role to play, all the evidence we have points to climate change as being responsible for the changes we are seeing.”
Antarctica is among the world’s fastest-warming regions. The Antarctic Peninsula, home to numerous chinstrap penguin colonies, is warming particularly quickly, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Argentine scientists reported the highest temperature recorded at the nearby Esperanza base last week—18.3 degrees Celsius, or 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
WMO experts are investigating whether the temperature extreme at Esperanza is a new record for continental Antarctica’s landmass.
Signy Island in the Antarctic region, which includes land south of 60 degrees latitude, recorded an all-time high temperature of 19.8 degrees C in January 1982. The average annual temperature ranges from about minus 10 degrees C on the Antarctic coast to minus 60 degrees C at the highest points in the interior.
Chinstrap penguins are one of the most common species of the animal in Antarctica. They take their name from a characteristic black line running below their beak.
Researchers on the Greenpeace expedition counted a total of 52,786 breeding pairs this season, down from previous survey estimates of about 122,550.
Scientists are surveying the penguins toward the end of their breeding season. Chinstrap penguin chicks tend to hatch in early January and remain in the nest until early February. Then they join so-called creches, or groups of young penguins, for warmth and protection while their parents forage, typically from late March through October.
This year, scientists from Stony Brook University in New York and Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, are surveying penguin colonies using manual and drone surveying techniques on Low Island, further south, for the first time.
The island is thought to host around 100,000 breeding pairs of chinstrap penguins. Bloomberg News