The nine years spanning 2013 to last year all rank among the 10 hottest on record, an annual US agency report released on Thursday showed, the latest data underscoring the global climate crisis.
The average temperature across global surfaces last year was 0.84°C higher than the 20th-century average, making the year the sixth-hottest in the overall record, which goes back to 1880.
“Of course, all this is driven by increasing concentrations of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide,” US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) senior climatologist Russell Vose told reporters.
“There’s probably a 99 percent chance that 2022 will rank in the top 10, a 50-50 chance, maybe a little less, it’ll rank in the top five, and a 10 percent chance it’ll rank first” barring an unforeseen event such as a major volcanic eruption or a large comet hitting Earth, he said.
The NOAA uses the 21-year span from 1880 to 1900 as a surrogate to assess pre-industrial conditions, and found that last year global land and ocean temperature was 1.04°C above the average.
A separate analysis of global temperature released by NASA had last year tying with 2018 as the sixth-warmest on record.
Both data sets vary slightly from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service in their assessment, which had last year as the fifth-warmest in records tracking back to the mid-19th century.
The overall convergence of trends increases scientists’ confidence in their conclusions.
Increases in abundance of atmospheric greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution are mainly the result of human activity and are largely responsible for the observed increases.
Climate scientists say it is crucial to hold end-of-century warming to within a 1.5°C rise to avert the worst impacts — from mega-storms to mass die-offs in coral reefs and the destruction of coastal communities.
At the present rate of heating, the planet might hit 1.5°C in the 2030s.
“But it’s not the case that at 1.4 everything is hunky dory and at 1.6 all hell has broken loose,” NASA climate expert Gavin Schmidt said.
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