2020 ties 2016 as hottest year on record
The European Union’s Climate Monitoring Service said in 2016 that the year 2016 is the warmest year on record, keeping the earth on a fast track that could devastate large sections of humanity.
The six years since 2015 are the six warmest yet recorded, and also 20 of the last 21, evidence of a sustained and deepening trend, the Copernicus Service for Climate Change (C3S) reported.
Last year’s record high – rising 1.25 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – was all the more worrying because it came without the aid of a periodic natural weather event, known as an El Nino, which reached two-tenths of the grade averaged in 2016, according to NASA and Britain’s Met Office.
“Clearly, in the absence of El Nino and La Nina affecting year-over-year temperatures, 2020 would be the hottest year on record,” said Zeke Hausfather, director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute in Oakland. California. , told AFP.
During an El Nino, which occurs every two to seven years, warm surface water in the tropical Pacific Ocean can raise world temperatures. La Ninas – like the one currently underway – has the opposite cooling effect.
“2020 stands out for its exceptional warmth,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of C3S.
“This is another reminder of the urgency of ambitious emissions reductions to prevent adverse climate effects in the future.”
In 2015, the countries of the world promised to tackle global warming “well below” 2C, and 1.5C if possible.
A subsequent report by the UN Climate Change Advisory Panel, the IPCC, left no doubt that 1.5C was the safer threshold.
With just over 1 ° C warming so far, the world has made a shrinkage of deadly droughts, heat waves, rainfall caused by floods, and superstorms more devastating by the rising sea.
In 2020, for example, there were a record number of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean – so much so that the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) ran out of letters in the alphabet to name them.
‘Shut off the tap’
Some regions grew much higher than the world average last year, especially based on satellite data, according to the Copernicus report.
Europe’s average surface temperature during 2020 was a rising 2.2 C above the pre-industrial benchmark – and almost half a degree above 2019, the previous record year.
Warming in the Arctic region was even more spectacular, with northern Siberia and parts of the Arctic region itself almost 7C above the middle of the 19th century.
Wildfires in Siberia that last until the fall released a record quarter billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, equivalent to the annual emissions of Spain, Egypt or Vietnam, and a third more than in 2019, the previous record year.
CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere reached a peak of 413 parts per million, almost 50 percent more than in the early 18th century, before the burning of fossil fuels began to charge the air with heat-trapped greenhouse gases, reports C3S.
These unprecedented levels were reached despite a seven percent drop in emissions due to pandemic barriers.
“As CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere like water in a bath, when we turn on the tap by seven percent, the CO2 level rises just a little slower,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, head of Earth systems analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate impact research. , told AFP.
“We have to turn off the tap to get a stable climate again.”
Global emissions were in 2019 with a steady upward trend, and it is still unclear whether humanity will return to “business as usual” or to allow carbon pollution to break down quickly enough to prevent catastrophic consequences for the climate.
Even if all nations were to fulfill the promises made in the annexation of the Paris Agreement of 2015, the planet would still be heating up more than 3C by the end of the century.
“The world has been heating up at a steady rate of about 0.2 C per decade since the 1970s due to human emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases,” Hausfather said.
“If we continue at our current rate, we will pass 1.5C by the mid-2030s.”