2020 one of warmest years on record, despite cooling La Nina effect: Study

Last year was one of the two warmest years on record, tying with 2016 which was the previous warmest year. For Europe, it was the warmest year on record, 0.4 degree Celsius (°C) warmer than 2019 which was previously the warmest year on record for the continent, according to the latest data from Copernicus Climate Change Service of the European Union.

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Scientists observed that 2020 ties with 2016 despite the cooling effect of La Niña, whereas the latter was a record year that began with the strong warming effect of El Niño. This essentially means that the impact of global warming has become more pronounced.

“The fact that 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record is another stark reminder that human-induced climate change continues unabated. This is particularly remarkable, as 2020 was not under the influence of an El Niño, a mode of natural climate variability in the tropical Pacific which ‘supercharged’ 2016 with extra heat. 2020 did not have such a ‘boost’, yet it almost exceeded the previous record holder. In fact, only a notably colder December (compared to November) prevented 2020 from becoming the new stand-alone warmest year,” said Karsten Haustein, Scientist at the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS), in a statement.

The carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have continued to rise at a rate of around 2.3 parts per million/year in 2020 reaching a maximum of 413 ppm during May 2020. Last year was 0.6 °C warmer than the standard 1981-2010 reference period and around 1.25 °C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial period, according to Copernicus service. This makes the last six years the warmest six on record.

The highest warming was recorded over the Arctic and northern Siberia where the mean temperature was over 6°C above the average for the reference period of 1981-2010.

Last year was the eighth warmest for India also since the country started keeping records in 1901, according to the India Meteorological Department’s statement on Climate of India in 2020.

During the year, the annual average temperature in the country was 0.29°C above normal (29-year average from 1981-2010). In 2016, India recorded the warmest year when the mean land surface temperature was 0.71°C above normal.

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