2020 is being called the joint warmest year the world has ever recorded
Watch ITV Meteorologist Laura Tobin from Good Morning Britain explain how 2020 has beaten more climate records
The temperature anomaly map above, shows the temperatures for 2020 compared to average. There are lots of pinks and reds, clearly showing that most of the world was warmer than average but most notably the Arctic. Here 2020 saw an exceptionally warm year. An area of the planet, that is now warming at a rate three times faster than the rest of the world.
In Siberia, the annual average temperature was 3-6ºC above average and a few months topped 8ºC above average. 2020's record is made even more remarkable by a cooling in the Pacific Ocean. A natural phenomenon known as La Niña, where upwelling of cold water in the eastern Pacific has a cooling impact on the atmosphere globally. Regardless of this process, 2020 still became the joint hottest year on record with 2016.
2020 saw a year of records
It wasn't just the temperature of 2020 that catapulted it into the record books, carbon dioxide levels were the highest recorded. We know this from ice core records which date back 2.6 million years.
Sea level saw a rise of 7 cm in the last 20 years. Prior to this, studies show the same rise in sea level took nearly 60 years. Arctic sea ice had its second-lowest extent during September. Oceans have the ability to absorb heat from the atmosphere. 2020 saw a rapid heat rise in the world's oceans smashing the previous year's record. And the UK wasn't alone in documenting another hot year. Berkley said 45 countries had a record warm year in 2020. Wildfires across Australia, Siberia, Calafornia and South America releasing gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere led to the rise in CO2 levels. Plus the Atlantic hurricane season was the most active on record with an all-time high number of named storms.
What are the impacts?More wildfires, plus the loss of coral reefs, large glacial melt and a reduction in the ice sheets causing further sea-level rise.
For the UK we're likely to see hotter drier summers with impacts on health, wellbeing and infrastructure. Our winters will be wetter, meaning more impacts from flooding and these events would become more common. Rising sea levels will impact our coastline putting more locations at risk of further devastation.
But the worry isn't all these individual records. It's the rate at which they are accelerating. The average temperature on Earth has been rising since pre-industrial times but it's how rapid this warming is now taking place. The last six years have been the six consecutive hottest years on record. 2020 concludes the hottest decade on record too.
The planet is continuing to warm at a rapid rate due to manmade greenhouse gases. The earth is already dangerously close to the 1.5ºC peak set out by the Paris agreement. A temperature rise which will have devastating consequence for life on earth as we know it today. We must all act together to slow the warming, as current projections suggest we're on track for reaching this by the end of this decade.
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