Data shows 2020 was Europe's warmest year on record

The six years since 2015 are the six warmest ever registered as are 20 of the last 21 evidence of a persistent and deepening trend

The six years since 2015 are the six warmest ever registered as are 20 of the last 21 evidence of a persistent and deepening trend

Last year effectively tied 2016 as the hottest year on record, European climate researchers announced Friday, as global temperatures continued their relentless rise brought on by the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Parts of the Arctic and northern Siberia saw some temperatures some 3 to 6 degrees Celsius above normal.

In the United States, the warmer temperatures contributed to a record 22 separate disasters that each caused more than a billion dollars of damage, including wildfires and hurricanes, according to a new USA government report.

The year, which ties with 2016, rounds off the hottest decade globally ever on record as the impacts of climate change intensify. The past 12 months also saw a new record for Europe, around 0.4C warmer than 2019.

The record warmth - which fueled deadly heat waves, droughts, intense wildfires and other environmental disasters around the world in 2020 - occurred despite the development in the second half of the year of La Nina, a global climate phenomenon marked by surface cooling across much of the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

In 2020, temperatures globally were an average of 1.25 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than in pre-industrial times, Copernicus said.

Past year topped the previous temperature record in Europe, registered in 2019, by a whopping 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.72 Fahrenheit), the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service said.

For Europe, 2020 was the hottest year on record, 1.6ºC above the long-term average.

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Some regions experienced exceptional warming.

The region also had an "unusually active" wildfire season, with fires poleward of the Arctic Circle releasing a record 244 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide in 2020, over a third more than in 2019. The Copernicus service concludes that while 2020 was very marginally cooler than 2016, the two years are statistically on a par as the differences between the figures for the two years are smaller than the typical differences found in other temperature databases for the same period.

Berkeley Earth will release its own analysis of 2020 global temperatures later this month, as will the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.

"It is no surprise that the last decade was the warmest on record, and is yet another reminder of the urgency of ambitious emissions reductions to prevent adverse climate impacts in the future", said Carlo Buontempo, director of the C3S.

Although COVID-19 lockdowns meant global emissions of Carbon dioxide dipped in 2020 compared with recent years, the concentration of the gas accumulated in the atmosphere continued to rise, Copernicus said.

Lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic and global traffic coming to a halt contributed to a 7 percent drop in emissions. CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere rose at a rate of approximately 2.3 ppm/year, reaching a maximum of 413 ppm during May.

"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".

"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. "This needs to happen within about the next 30 years if global warming is to be limited to 1.5C".

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