The report also indicates that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere continued to rise over the past year at a rate of approximately 2.3 particles per million (ppm) with a peak of 431 ppm during May.
Past year tied with 2016 as the world's warmest on record, rounding off the hottest decade globally as the impacts of climate change intensified, the European Union's Copernicus Earth observation service said on Friday.
Despite pandemic-induced lockdowns of the global economy in 2020, greenhouse gas emissions continued to accumulate in the atmosphere, propelling the world closer to crossing the 1.5 °C warming threshold that climate models predict will lead to more frequent superstorms and higher sea levels. The record warmth fueled record wildfires in the Arctic, a large number of tropical storms in the Atlantic, and deadly heatwaves.
While not quite as drastic as in Europe, temperatures across North America were above average as well.
Only 2016 matched the heat seen in 2020, but that year had a natural El Niño climate event that boosts temperatures. 2020 did not have such a "boost", yet it nearly exceeded the previous record holder. Scientists have repeatedly warned that urgent action is needed for the world to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.
Last year was the hottest year on record, tying with 2016, the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service said on Friday. Researchers predict that annual average Carbon dioxide concentration at the Mauna Loa recording station in Hawaii will be around 2.29 parts per million (ppm) higher in 2021 than in 2020. After an exceptionally warm winter and autumn in Europe, the continent experienced its hottest year on record in 2020.
The Arctic is warming much faster than elsewhere, a characteristic that was reflected in the 2020 numbers.
Decadal averages of global air temperature at a height of two metres estimated change since the pre-industrial period according to different datasets.
The forest fire season in the Arctic region was extremely active, with fires first recorded in May and continuing throughout the summer and even fall.
During the second half of the year, Arctic ice was significantly below average for that time of year, with the shortest stretch of sea ice recorded in July and October.
A year ago topped the previous temperature record in Europe - 2019 - by a whopping 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.72 Fahrenheit), the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service said. In contrast, parts of the Southern Hemisphere saw below-average temperatures, especially over the eastern equatorial Pacific, associated with the cooler La Niña conditions developing during the second half of the year.
Yet while many countries in 2020 made headlines for announcing quicker timelines for moving to net-zero emissions, a recent analysis showed that just 45 parties (44 countries, plus the EU's 27 member states, viewed as one bloc) met the deadline to share their updated targets. "It will be hard, but the cost of inaction is too great", said Matthias Petschke, Director for Space, European Commission's Directorate-General for Defence industry and Space, in a statement. By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.