The year 2020 was 0.6°C warmer than the standard 1981-2010 reference period and around 1.25°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial period.
A year ago also saw the highest temperature ever reliably recorded, when in August a California heatwave pushed the temperature at Death Valley in the Mojave Desert up to 54.4C.
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.
2020 witnessed a record number, for example, of hurricanes in the Atlantic - so many that the World Meteorological Organization ran out of letters in the alphabet to name them.
While not quite as drastic as in Europe, temperatures across North America were above average as well. Without it, 2020 would have nearly certainly been the hottest year so far. Researchers predict that annual average Carbon dioxide concentration at the Mauna Loa recording station in Hawaii will be around 2.29 parts per million (ppm) higher in 2021 than in 2020.
Atmospheric CO2 concentrations also continued to climb upward at a growth rate of about 2.3 parts per million per year, hitting "an unprecedented global column-averaged maximum" of 413 ppm in May. Winter 2020That is, from December 2019 to February 2020, the previous warmest year exceeded 2016 by 1.4 degrees Celsius, and autumn (September - November 2020) exceeded the old record from 2006 by 0.4 degrees Celsius.
The Arctic is experiencing faster global warming than the rest of the planet, a trend that was also reflected in the 2020 numbers.
Scientists say the rising temperatures contributed to more intense natural disasters, from wildfires in Australia and the United States to cyclones in South Asia, heatwaves in Europe and locust swarms in east Africa. On a monthly basis, the largest positive temperature anomalies reached more than 8°C.
The forest fire season in the Arctic region was extremely active, with fires first recorded in May and continuing throughout the summer and even fall. As a result, poleward of the Arctic Circle, fires released a record amount of 244 megatons of Carbon dioxide in 2020, over a third more than the 2019 record.
Arctic sea ice continued to deplete, with July and October both setting records for the lowest sea ice extent in that month. In contrast, parts of the Southern Hemisphere saw below-average temperatures, especially over the eastern equatorial Pacific, associated with the cooler La Niña conditions developing during the second half of the year. Values for the reported data are from the ECMWF Copernicus Climate Change Service ERA5 dataset, now dated 1979. We must come together as a global community, to ensure a just transition to a net zero future. "It will be hard, but the cost of inaction is too great".
There's no way around it: unless we see drastic and quick reductions in global emissions, years will get hotter and hotter and we - along with everyone else on Earth - will pay the price.
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