2020 pairs with 2016 as world's hottest year on record

James Marshall
January 11, 2021

It said the year 2016 was the world's warmest year on record.

The Arctic and the northern portion of Siberia that lies in the Arctic circle saw the most extreme temperature increases, with increases in some locations jumping by 6 degrees Celsius.

In the United States, the warmer temperatures contributed to a record 22 separate disasters that each caused more than a billion dollars of damage, including wildfires and hurricanes, according to a new US government report.

And while 2020 may tie the record, all of the past six years are among the hottest ever, said Freja Vamborg, a senior scientist with the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Meanwhile in Europe it was The hottest year on record, 0.4 ° C is warmer than 2019, and earlier this year was the warmest year.

The record warmth - which fueled deadly heat waves, droughts, intense wildfires and other environmental disasters around the world in 2020 - occurred despite the development in the second half of the year of La Nina, a global climate phenomenon marked by surface cooling across much of the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

According to Copernicus, in 2020, temperatures globally were an average of 1.25 degrees Celsius higher than in pre-industrial times.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service is a service that analyzes data on climate change and operates as part of one of the Earth's leading monitoring programs European Union Copernicus.

For Europe, 2020 was the hottest year on record, 1.6ºC above the long-term average. This exceptional warming led to a very active wildfire season.

Wildfires across Siberia lasting well into the autumn released a record quarter billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, equivalent to the annual emissions of Spain, Egypt or Vietnam, and a third more than in 2019, the previous record year.

There is one key difference between 2016 and 2020, El Niño. More data on 2020's temperature will be released in the next week or so from other agencies, including Nasa and the UK Met Office. "It is no surprise that the last decade was the warmest on record, and is yet another reminder of the urgency of ambitious emissions reductions to prevent adverse climate impacts".

"Climate change will play an increasing role in all of these hazards", said Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek.

Britain's Met Office forecast on Friday that Carbon dioxide concentrations in spring 2021 would hit levels 50 per cent higher than before the industrial revolution, breaching a symbolic threshold for human impact on the climate.

Even with COVID-19 lockdowns, which significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions across Europe, CO2 levels in the atmosphere also continued to rise previous year. While weather patterns linked to the La Niña event may boost growth in tropical forests and increase the amount of the gas that's absorbed, it won't be enough to slow the overall rise. This is 50% higher than the level of 278ppm that pertained in the late 18th Century as widespread industrial activity was just beginning.

"Since CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere like water in a bathtub, if we turn down the tap by 7%, the CO2 level just rises a bit more slowly", Stefan Rahmstorf, head of Earth system analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said. As part of the Paris Agreement five years ago, "the global community set itself the target of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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