Earth’s warmest year on record in 2020, scientists say

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Earth's warmest year on record in 2020, scientists say

  • This year’s warmth is “unusual,” given the lack of a strong El Niño.
  • Already, through the first three months of the year, it’s the second-warmest on record.
  • There’s a 99.9% chance that 2020 will end among the five warmest years on record.

Federal scientists announced Thursday that 2020 has nearly a 75% chance of being the warmest year on record for the planet Earth.

Already, through the first three months of the year, it’s the second-warmest on record, trailing only the El Niño fueled year of 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration




(NOAA) said.

This year’s warmth is “unusual,” given the lack of a strong El Niño, a natural warming of tropical Pacific Ocean water that influences temperatures worldwide, according to Deke Arndt of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

He said both February and March were the warmest months on record without an El Niño present. The long-term trend of ongoing heat the planet continues to see is primarily because of the emission of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels, he said.



Even if 2020 ends up not being the warmest year, NOAA said there’s a 99.9% chance that 2020 will end among the five warmest years on record.

The warmth has been nearly global so far this year: “Record-hot January-through-March temperatures were seen across parts of Europe, Asia, Central and, South America, as well as the Atlantic, Indian and western Pacific Oceans,” NOAA said. “No land or ocean areas had record-cold temperatures during this period.”




Climate change: Antarctic glacier retreated 3 miles in 22 years, threatening global sea-level rise

What winter?: Earth just had its second-warmest December-February on record

NOAA said that 2020 has a 74.7% chance of being the Earth's warmest year on record.

Global temperature records go back to 1880.




March 2020 itself was the second-warmest March on record, trailing only March 2016. The 10 warmest Marches have all occurred since 1990. March 2020 was also the 44th consecutive March and the 423rd consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th-century average, NOAA said.

Looking ahead, NOAA scientists said that through the end of the summer, neither an El Niño nor its cooler counterpart La Niña is expected to form. Beyond that, the odds of a La Niña forming increase to 35% to 40% by late fall and early winter.



La Niña, marked by cooler-than-average ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, can cause a more active Atlantic hurricane season.

NOAA’s announcements about the global temperatures and climate were made during a conference call with reporters Thursday morning.

Sea-level rise: Greenland and Antarctica are now melting six times faster than in the 1990s

Credit: USATODAY

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