Energy & Environment

2020 temperatures approximate warmest year on record, US agencies say

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FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Power lines in Los Angeles, California on September 3, 2020, ahead of a heatwave to arrive September 4 through the Labour Day weekend prompting a statewide flex alert.

Separate climate estimates from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) put 2020 about in line with 2016, the hottest year on record. 

NASA found that the Earth’s global surface temperature last year was slightly higher than those in 2016 but that the difference was within its margin of error, making the years essentially tied as the warmest, while the NOAA found that 2020 was the second-hottest year by a narrow margin. 

The findings echo those of the European Union’s climate change service, which previously announced that its findings showed 2020 and 2016 were tied as the warmest years.

“The last seven years have been the warmest seven years on record, typifying the ongoing and dramatic warming trend,” Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a statement. 

“Whether one year is a record or not is not really that important — the important things are long-term trends. With these trends, and as the human impact on the climate increases, we have to expect that records will continue to be broken,” Schmidt said. 

NASA found that this year’s temperatures were an average of 1.02 degrees Celsius warmer than the average between 1951 and 1980. According to the agency, the increasing temperatures are resulting in sea ice loss, sea level rise and worse heat waves. 

NOAA found that last year, Arctic sea ice coverage was tied with 2016 at the smallest on record. 

Tags Climate change Effects of climate change Global warming NASA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA sea level rise
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