Earth’s rising fever hit or neared record hot temperature levels in 2020, global weather groups reported Thursday.
While NASA and a couple of other measurement groups said 2020 passed or essentially tied 2016 as the hottest year on record, more agencies, including the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, said last year came in a close second or third. The differences in rankings mostly turned on how scientists accounted for data gaps in the Arctic, which is warming faster than the rest of the globe.
“It’s like the film ‘Groundhog Day.’ Another year, same story — record global warmth,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who wasn’t part of the measurement teams. “As we continue to generate carbon pollution, we expect the planet to warm up. And that’s precisely what we’re seeing.”
Scientists said all you had to do was look outside: “We saw the heat waves. We saw the fires. We saw the (melting) Arctic,” said NASA top climate scientist Gavin Schmidt. “We’re expecting it to get hotter and that’s exactly what happened.”
NOAA said 2020 averaged 58.77 degrees (14.88 degrees Celsius), a few hundredths of a degree behind 2016. NASA saw 2020 as warmer than 2016 but so close they are essentially tied. The European Copernicus group also called it an essential tie for hottest year, with 2016 warmer by an insignificant fraction. Japan’s weather agency put 2020 as warmer than 2016, but a separate calculation by Japanese scientists put 2020 as a close third behind 2016 and 2019. The World Meteorological Organization, the British weather agency and Berkeley Earth’s monitoring team had 2016 ahead.
First or second rankings really don’t matter, “but the key thing to take away is that the long-term trends in temperature are very very clearly up and up…