New Delhi (NVI): 2020 was one of the three warmest year on record and rivalled 2016 for the top spot, which is another reminder of the relentless pace of climate change on earth, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report.
The World Metrological Department surveyed five datasets which concur that 2011-2020 was the warmest decade on record, in a persistent long-term climate change trend.
The warmest 6 years have all been since 2015, with 2016, 2019 and 2020 being the top three. The differences in average global temperatures among the three warmest year are indistinguishably small, UN weather agency said.
“The average global temperature in 2020 was about 14.9°C, 1.2 (± 0.1) °C above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level,” it added.
“The confirmation by the World Meteorological Organization that 2020 was one of the warmest years on record is yet another stark reminder of the relentless pace of climate change, which is destroying lives and livelihoods across our planet,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement.
He pointed out that at 1.2 degrees of warming and already witnessing unprecedented weather extremes in every region and on every continent.
“We are headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius this century. Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top priority for everyone, everywhere,” Guterres said.
“The exceptional heat of 2020 is despite a La Niña event, which has a temporary cooling effect,” WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas said.
“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,” he said, adding that, this is a clear indication that the global signal from human-induced climate change is now as powerful as the force of nature,” Taalas added.
According to the WMO report, the La Niña event which began in late 2020 is expected to continue into early to mid-2021 and La Niña and El Niño effects on average global temperature are typically strongest in the second year of the event.
The extent to which the continued cooling effects of La Niña in 2021 may temporarily diminish the overall long-term warming trend during this coming year remains to be seen.
WMO also informed that sustained heat and wildfires in Siberia and low Arctic sea ice extent, as well as the record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season were among the standout features of 2020.
It added that temperature is just one of the indicators of climate change and others are greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean heat content, ocean pH, global mean sea level, glacial mass, sea ice extent and extreme events.
WMO used datasets based on monthly climatological data from observing sites development and maintained by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS) and the UK’s met office Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (HadCRUT).
The datasets combines millions of meteorological and marine observations, including from satellites, with models to produce a complete reanalysis of the atmosphere.
“The combination of observations with models makes it possible to estimate temperatures at any time and in any place across the globe, even in data-sparse areas such as the polar regions, as per the WMO report
The UN weather agency also informed that the Paris Agreement aims to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degree Celsius preferably to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels.
However, the global average temperature in 2020 is already approaching the lower limit of temperature increase the Paris Agreement seeks to avert.
Furthermore, there is at least a one in five chance of the average global temperature temporarily exceeding 1.5 °C by 2024, according to WMO’s Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, led by the UK’s met office, the WMO said.