Data shows 2020 was Europe's warmest year on record

Rodiano Bonacci
Gennaio 11, 2021

A press advisory note quotes Dr. Karsten Haustein, Scientist at the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS), saying: "The fact that 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record is another stark reminder that human-induced climate change continues unabated".

The biggest jump was seen in the Arctic Ocean and the north of Siberia, where temperatures soared to an unprecedented six degrees above the former average.

Siberia is sizzling in record heat with temperatures well above 30 C.

Previous 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 Copernicus Climate Change Service said on Friday. The past 12 months also saw a new record for Europe, around 0.4C warmer than 2019.

However, it was a completely different story in North America, as six of the 10 costliest natural disasters were in the USA, which suffered the most active hurricane season on record in 2020.

The average global temperatures in 2020 stood at 1.25 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels, according to Copernicus.

Matthias Petschke, Director for Space, European Commission's Directorate-General for Defence industry and Space said of the findings, "The extraordinary climate events of 2020 and the data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service show us that we have no time to lose".

Europe saw its warmest year on record, 0.4°C warmer than 2019 which was previously the warmest year, it added in a written statement.

The year 2020 has been a very active season for wildfires in the region which release record amounts of CO2. 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.

Parts of the Southern Hemisphere experienced lower than average temperatures, possibly as a result of the arrival of La Nina conditions in the second half of 2020. "In fact, only a notably colder December (compared to November) prevented 2020 from becoming the new stand-alone warmest Year".

"Climate change will play an increasing role in all of these hazards", said Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek. While a strong La Niña may cool temperatures a little in 2021, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are likely to remain high, contributing to ongoing warming. Despite the global slowdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the scientists say this rise is being driven by emissions from the use of fossil fuels and from deforestation. Researchers predict that annual average Carbon dioxide concentration at the Mauna Loa recording station in Hawaii will be around 2.29 parts per million (ppm) higher in 2021 than in 2020. This is 50% higher than the level of 278ppm that pertained in the late 18th Century as widespread industrial activity was just beginning.

"Weather patterns linked to the current La Niña event are expected to promote a temporary burst of growth in tropical forests that soak up some of humanity's emissions", the Met Office said, but "CO2 will still continue to build up in the atmosphere, and will exceed 417 ppm for several weeks from April to June".

"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, told AFP.

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