NASA has revealed that 2020 has been the hottest year on record, tying with 2016 for the title.
According to the agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, scientists found that the globally averaged temperature for 2020 was 1.02 degrees Celsius warmer than the baseline average between 1951-1980, and continues the long-term warming trend we’ve been observing on our planet. Though temperatures were just slightly above 2016’s records, GISS says it was within the margin of error of the analysis and placed both years at the top together.
NASA also pointed out that two events last year had particularly significant effects on global temperatures. The Australian wildfires at the beginning of 2020 burned a staggering 46 million acres of land, resulting in the release of a massive amount of smoke and particles 18 miles high in the atmosphere, which shaded the Earth from sunlight, cooling the planet slightly. The coronavirus pandemic then came around, causing global lockdowns which lowered air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, both contributing to a slightly cooler temperature as well. Despite these two events, however, NASA notes that “warming is related to cumulative emissions” and so “the overall amount of avoided warming will be minimal.”
Commenting on the findings, GISS director Gavin Schmidt said: “The last seven years have been the warmest seven years on record, typifying the ongoing and dramatic warming trend. Whether one year is a record or not is not really that important — the important things are long-term trends. With these trends, and as the human impact on the climate increases, we have to expect that records will continue to be broken.”