Copernicus: 2020 warmest year on record for Europe, globally

James Marshall
January 11, 2021

Temperature data from the system shows that 2020 was 1.25C warmer than the average from 1850-1900, a time often described as the "pre-industrial" period.

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.

However, last year's record high was more alarming as it came without the help of a periodic natural weather event known as an "El Nino", which added up to two-tenths of a degree to the 2016 average, according NASA and Britain's Met Office.

The year 2020 has tied with 2016 as the world's warmest year on record, rounding off the hottest decade globally as the impacts of climate change intensified.

Past year tied with 2016 as the world's warmest on record, rounding off the hottest decade globally as the impacts of climate change intensified, the European Union's earth observation program says. The Copernicus service concludes that while 2020 was very marginally cooler than 2016, the two years are statistically on a par as the differences between the figures for the two years are smaller than the typical differences found in other temperature databases for the same period. 2020 did not have such a "boost", yet it nearly exceeded the previous record holder.

"The extraordinary climate events of 2020 and the data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service show us that we have no time to lose", said Matthias Petschke, Director for Space in the European Commission, the EU's executive arm.

In addition to this, Carbon dioxide concentration levels in the atmosphere have continued to increase worldwide, and it's predicted this will continue without swift action.

This pattern was consistent throughout the seasons, with winter temperatures being 1.4 degrees higher than the previous year and autumn 0.4 degrees higher.

Rising global temperatures are tied to the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The Arctic is experiencing faster global warming than the rest of the planet, a trend that was also reflected in the 2020 numbers. On a monthly basis, the largest positive temperature anomalies reached more than 8°C. Fires in the Arctic Circle released a record amount of CO2, according to the study, up over a third from 2019. And, sea ice levels were substantially lower during the second half of the year.

The Northern Hemisphere had above-average temperatures for the year, apart from a region over the central North Atlantic. Values for the reported data are from the ECMWF Copernicus Climate Change Service ERA5 dataset, now dated 1979. "Reversing this trend and slowing the atmospheric Carbon dioxide rise will need global emissions to reduce, and bringing them to a halt will need global emissions to be brought down to net zero. It will be hard, but the cost of inaction is too great", said Matthias Petschke, Director for Space, European Commission's Directorate-General for Defence industry and Space, in a statement.

There's no way around it: unless we see drastic and quick reductions in global emissions, years will get hotter and hotter and we - along with everyone else on Earth - will pay the price.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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