Global warming pushed 2020 temperatures into record territory, according to data released on Thursday by multiple science organizations.
NASA and European Union Copernicus Climate Change Service said that 2020 shares the hottest year on record with 2016. Other organizations, including the World Meteorological Association (WMO), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and UK Met Office, all said that 2020 was in the top three warmest years ever recorded.
All of the organizations agreed that 2020’s temperatures reflect a pattern of overall climbing temperatures.
“The last seven years have been the warmest seven years on record, typifying the ongoing and dramatic warming trend,” Goodard Institute for Space Studies Director Gavin Schmidt told NASA. “Whether one year is a record or not is not really that important — the important things are long-term trends. With these trends, and as the human impact on the climate increases, we have to expect that records will continue to be broken.”
The consequences of rising global temperatures were felt around the world. At the start of 2020, unprecedented wild bushfires roared through Australia.
The New York Times reported that in Verkhoyansk, a town in Siberia, temperatures reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit in June, more than 30 degrees above the monthly average.
Significantly warmer temperatures were also recorded in the Northeast and Southwest of the US, too. The warming caused droughts throughout nearly half of the country, according to the New York Times.
The effects of rising temperatures are causing concern throughout the international community, especially since La Niña, the cold phase of the El Niño-Souther Oscillation cycle, began in September 2020.
“The exceptional heat of 2020 is despite a La Niña event, which has a temporary cooling effect,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas told UN News.
The warm phase, El Niño, happened in 2016, which contributed to the high temperatures that year.
“It is remarkable that temperatures in 2020 were virtually on a par with 2016, when we saw one of the strongest El Niño warming events on record,” Taalas said. “This is a clear indication that the global signal from human-induced climate change is now as powerful as the force of nature.”
The temperature rise last year is already in the lower limit of the agreements described in the Paris Climate Agreement. Scientists are also warning that 2021 could be another warm year.
“We are headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius this century,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told UN News. “Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top priority for everyone, everywhere.”