Global temperatures in 2020 were among the highest on record and rivaled 2016 as the hottest year ever.
The world is on track for a “catastrophic” temperature rise this century, the United Nations has warned.
Global temperatures in 2020 were among the highest on record and rivaled 2016 as the hottest year ever, according to international data compiled by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The heat came even as a global economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic drastically reduced fossil fuel emissions, adding evidence that concentrations of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere have put the planet on track. Warming.
The relentless pace of climate change “is destroying lives,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday as WMO declared 2011 to 2020 the hottest decade on record.
“We are heading for a catastrophic temperature rise from 3 to 5 [degrees Celsius] this century… making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. This has to be the top priority, ”Guterres said.
The WMO report included data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the UK Met Office, both of which ranked 2020 as the second hottest year on record, as a cooling trend called La Nina failed to tame global temperatures.
WMO consolidation of 5 large temperature data sets:
🌡️2020 one of the 3 hottest years on record, rivaling 2016 for the top spot
Hottest decade 2011-2020
The 6 hottest years since 2015
– World Meteorological Organization (@WMO) January 14, 2021
La Nina’s cold phase of the Pacific Ocean’s surface temperature cycle “did not dampen the heat until the very end of the year,” WMO said.
He said the average global temperature in 2020 was around 14.9 degrees Celsius (58.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
‘La Nina to continue’
The WMO said the most prominent weather features of 2020 were the sustained heat and forest fires in Siberia and the low extent of arctic sea ice, as well as the record-breaking hurricane season in the Atlantic.
La Nina is expected to continue from early to mid-2021.
“It is remarkable that temperatures in 2020 were practically equal to those of 2016, when we witnessed one of the strongest El Nino warming events on record. This is a clear indication that the global signal of human-induced climate change is now as powerful as the force of nature, ”said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“Heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere remain at record levels and the long lifespan of carbon dioxide, the most important gas, commits the planet to future warming.”
WMO will publish its final state of the climate report in 2020 in March.