2020 was the hottest year in Europe

Rodiano Bonacci
Gennaio 11, 2021

2020 will go down in history for many things, but another added to the list today ranks 2020 as the joint hottest year on record globally with 2016.

According to these observations, the greatest annual temperature increase over the 1981-2010 average was concentrated in the Arctic Ocean and northern Siberia, reaching over 6 degrees Celsius above the average.

The year 2020 was 0.6°C warmer than the standard 1981-2010 reference period and around 1.25°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial period.

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.

Although emissions dropped 7% last year due to the lockdowns, they continued to build up in the atmosphere and thanks to inertia from previous years, we ended up with a new record.

"The extraordinary climate events of 2020 and the data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service show us that we have no time to lose". This is particularly remarkable, as 2020 was not under the influence of an El Niño, a mode of natural climate variability in the tropical Pacific which "supercharged" 2016 with extra heat.

While not quite as drastic as in Europe, temperatures across North America were above average as well.

Some regions experienced exceptional warming. Fires in the Arctic Circle released a record amount of CO2, according to the study, up over a third from 2019.

Berkeley Earth will release its own analysis of 2020 global temperatures later this month, as will the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. Twenty-sixteen was made warmer by a strong El Niño event while 2020 was made slightly cooler by an emerging La Niña in the second half of the year.

The heat wave in the western US also resulted in a record fire season in several USA states but especially in California.

In 2020 the world was also hit by a record number of hurricanes in the Atlantic, to the extent that the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) ran out of letters to name them.

Vamborg said that it is hard to attribute any temperature differences directly to La Nina, but the cooling effect of the phenomenon may be why December 2020, when La Nina was strengthening, was only the sixth warmest December ever, while most of the other months of the year were in the top three. Comments Carlo Pontembo, Dyrektor Copernicus Climate Change Service. "So while certainly La Nina had some cooling effect in the last few months, it's likely going to have a bigger impact on 2021 temperatures", he said.

Britain's Met Office forecast on Friday that Carbon dioxide concentrations would hit levels 50% higher than before the industrial revolution in spring 2021. CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere rose at a rate of approximately 2.3 ppm/year, reaching a maximum of 413 ppm during May. The Met Office says that Carbon dioxide will exceed 417ppm in the atmosphere for several weeks from April to June.

"It took over 200 years for levels to increase by 25%, but now just over 30 years later we are approaching a 50% increase", Betts said in a statement. We must come together as a global community, to ensure a just transition to a net zero future. "This needs to happen within about the next 30 years if global warming is to be limited to 1.5C".

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