Earth’s climate went off the rails in 2021, reports show

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According to new, independent data from NASA, NOAA and Berkeley Earth, global warming will localize to a new and catastrophic extent in 2021, with the year ranking as the sixth warmest year on record.

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Why this matters: Each year’s data adds to the relentless long-term trend, which particularly reflects rapid warming due to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions during the past several decades.

  • Global changes in ocean warming, atmospheric moisture and surface temperature on short time scales are increasingly being felt in the form of unprecedented and deadly extreme weather and climate events.

big picture: The three temperature tracking groups matched data released earlier this week by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, and showed how the presence of a La Nia event in the tropical Pacific, which changes the average sea surface temperature near the equator. Featuring cooler than that, remove 2021 from the list of failed top 10 years.


Between the lines: The next year, which features an El Nio in the tropical Pacific, La Nia’s warm brother, is almost sure to set a record for the warmest year, as it could further accelerate human-caused warming.

  • Last year showed a relentless series of extreme weather and climate disasters, with temperatures and water levels reaching unprecedented levels.
  • For example, a June heat wave in the Pacific Northwest set a temperature record for the warmest reading ever recorded in Canada (121 °F), as well as the highest ever in Oregon and Washington. The Canadian record-setting city, Lytton, British Columbia, burned down in a wildfire the next day.
  • One study found that heat wave could not have happened without human-caused global warming.
  • “Changes in extreme events global warming writ local,” NASA’s Gavin Schmidt, who directs the agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, told Nerdshala in an email.

how to describe Very The world has warmed to the lives of many, consider these two facts, one from NOAA and one from NASA:

  • Since 1977, the world has not experienced a cooler than average year compared to the 20th century average.
  • In NASA’s data set, 1988 — the year in which climate scientist James Hansen famously testified before Congress, warned that human-caused global warming was underway — ruled as the hottest year on record for a long time.
  • Because of the heat since then, 1988 is now the 28th warmest year in NASA’s data set, according to Schmidt.
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By numbers: The statistics contained in these reports are startling, and it goes home how different today’s climate is from what it was a few decades ago.

  • about 2 billion people Lived through its hottest year on record, as 25 countries, including China and Nigeria, earned that distinction. According to Berkeley Earth, it did not have the coldest year of any place on Earth on record.
  • four of the top 20 The largest wildfire in California’s history occurred in 2021, as heat waves and drought spurred the environment into massive blazes. were involved in Second largest fire on recordThe Dixie Fire, which burned more than 963,000 acres.
  • nine years Ranked in the top 10 warmest years on record from 2013 to 2021, according to NOAA.
  • The world is now 1.2 °C (2.2 °F) warmer than pre-industrial levels, Berkeley Earth found, the Paris climate agreement’s target of limiting temperature targets to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • Beyond that point, the scientists say, there could be more dangerous and potentially irreversible climate consequences, including melting of polar ice caps and the loss of iconic ecosystems such as coral reefs.

Bottom-line: Even as the world’s relatively “quiet” years are now among the top eight warmest on the list, there is no chance of slowing global warming, scientists say, until the world’s greenhouse gas emissions curve sharply downward, all the way to zero and eventually below zero in the coming decades.


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