Globally, 2020 ties with 2016 for warmest year recorded – Latest data released by the Copernicus Climate Change Service show that globally 2020 was on par with the warmest year ever recorded, marking the end of the warmest decade on record, while CO2 concentrations continue to rise.
The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) today reveals that globally 2020 was tied with the previous warmest year 2016, making it the sixth in a series of exceptionally warm years starting in 2015, and 2011-2020 the warmest decade recorded. Meanwhile, Europe saw its warmest year on record, 0.4°C warmer than 2019 which was previously the warmest year. Together with the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), C3S also reports that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have continued to rise at a rate of approximately 2.3 ppm/year in 2020 reaching a maximum of 413 ppm during May 2020. Both C3S and CAMS are implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Commission with funding by the European Union.
C3S’s dataset for surface air temperatures shows that:
- Globally, 2020 was on a par with the 2016 record
- 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
- This makes the last six years the warmest six on record
- Europe saw its warmest year on record at 1.6°C above the 1981-2010 reference period, and 0.4°C above 2019, the previous warmest year
- The largest annual temperature deviation from the 1981-2010 average was concentrated over the Arctic and northern Siberia, reaching to over 6°C above average
Furthermore, satellite measurements of global atmospheric CO2 concentrations show that:
- CO2 global column-averaged maximum reached 413 ppm
- CO2 continued to rise in 2020, increasing by 2.3 ± 0.4 ppm,slightly less than the growth rate of the previous year
Parts of the Arctic and northern Siberia saw some of the largest annual temperature deviations from average in 2020, with a large region seeing deviations of as much as 3°C and in some locations even over 6°C for the year as a whole. On a monthly basis, the largest positive temperature anomalies for the region repeatedly reached more than 8°C. Western Siberia experienced an exceptionally warm winter and spring, a pattern also seen over summer and autumn in the Siberian Arctic and over much of the Arctic Ocean.
Furthermore, the wildfire season was unusually active in this region, with fires first detected in May, continuing throughout summer and well into autumn. As a result, poleward of the Arctic Circle, fires released a record amount of 244 megatonnes of carbon dioxide in 2020, over a third more than the 2019 record. During the second half of the year, Arctic sea ice was significantly lower than average for the time of the year with July and October seeing the lowest sea ice extent on record for the respective month.
In general, the Northern Hemisphere experienced above average temperatures for the year, apart from a region over the central North Atlantic. In contrast, parts of the Southern Hemisphere saw below average temperatures, most notably over the eastern equatorial Pacific, associated with the cooler La Niña conditions developing during the second half of the year. It is notable that 2020 matches the 2016 record despite a cooling La Niña, whereas 2016 was a record year that began with a strong warming El Niño event.
Europe 2020: warmest year on record
2020 was Europe’s warmest year recorded, and seasonally winter 2019/20 and autumn 2020 were also the warmest recorded. Winter 2020, meaning December 2019 to February 2020, exceeded the previous warmest of 2016 by almost 1.4°C, while autumn (September to November 2020) passed the old record set in 2006 by 0.4°C. In addition, western Europe experienced a significant heatwave in late July and early August. The next four warmest years for Europe also happened during the last decade.
A full and detailed analysis of Europe’s climate will be released in April when Copernicus presents its annual European State of the Climate 2020.
Carlo Buontempo, Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), comments: “2020 stands out for its exceptional warmth in the Arctic and a record number of tropical storms in the North Atlantic. It is no surprise that the last decade was the warmest on record, and is yet another reminder of the urgency of ambitious emissions reductions to prevent adverse climate impacts in the future.”
CO2 concentrations continue to rise in 2020
EU Copernicus Climate Change Service: Copernicus: 2020 warmest year on record for Europe