As if catastrophic wildfires, a record-breaking hurricane season and an epidemic that brought the world to its knees, 2020 were not enough, becoming the hottest year in recorded history.
Data released on Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA showed that 2020 now ranks as the second-warmest year, with average temperatures of 58.77 degrees Fahrenheit – 0.04 degrees cooler than 2016, a record. keeps.
The Northern Hemisphere experienced its warmest year on record, surpassing the 20th century average of 2.3 degrees, according to NOAA. Last year, oceans were also “exceptionally warm” with record high sea surface temperatures in parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.
NOAA scientists said Arctic sea ice has also been reduced with average temperatures. Satellite observations revealed that Arctic sea ice averaged 3.93 million square miles in 2020, tying 2016 for the smallest on record.
Milestones come after historic wildfires in Australia and the US and extreme weather events around the world have increased pressure on governments to reverse the devastating effects of global warming and climate change.
Although NOAA has designated 2020 as the second-warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880, there are some discrepancies among other agencies that conduct similar measurements. A NASA analysis found that the global average surface temperature in 2020 is tied to 2016, while the World Meteorological Organization still has 2016.
The discrepancies between these groups are due to subtle differences in how they account for data gaps on parts of the planet that lack reliable weather stations, such as in polar regions or over broad areas of the ocean.
But experts say these small differences are inconsistent against the broader backdrop of global warming. The seven hottest years on the planet have been on record since 2014, with 10 of the hottest years since 2005, all according to NOAA.
“The last seven years have been the hottest seven years on record, increasing the trend of ongoing and dramatic warming,” Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a statement. “Whether or not a year is a record is not really important – the important things are the long-term trends. With these trends, and as human impact on the climate increases, we have to expect records to keep breaking. “
Scientists find that the effects of climate change are more pronounced in the Arctic, where even small temperature differences can have large consequences. NASA’s analysis showed that over the past 30 years, the region is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet, Schmidt said.