Monday, June 29, 2020

More Record Breaking Heat (January - June 2020)

Month after month, year after year temperature records keep being broken. Last July was the hottest month ever recorded and 2019 was the second hottest year on record. The five last years have been the hottest on record, as was the decade from 2010-2019. The five warmest decades on record have all occurred in the last 50 years and each successive decade was warmer than any preceding decade. We have seen 425 consecutive months of above average surface temperature and 43 consecutive years with above average global land and ocean temperatures. Since the 1970s global temperatures have risen an average of 0.2 °C per decade due mostly to carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning fossil fuels. Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 are now at their highest level in at least 800,000 years.

January 2020 was the warmest on record with global land and ocean surface temperatures averaging1.14°C above the 20th-century average. This surpassed the record set in January 2016 by 0.02°C. The average global land and ocean surface temperature for February 2020 was 1.17 °C above the 20th-century average and the second-highest on record behind 2016. March was the fourth warmest month on record. In Europe the winter of 2019-2020 was the hottest on record. From the start of December to the end of February, the average temperature was 3.4 degrees Celsius above the norm from 1981-2010 and 1.4 degrees higher than the previous record set in 2015-16.

April 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest April on record worldwide. There were particularly high temperatures over western Europe and north-central Asia in April. The average temperature for the 12 months to April 2020 is close to 1.3 °C above the pre-industrial norms, Copernicus said. That is 0.2 °C below the upper threshold limit of 1.5 °C agreed to in the Paris Climate agreement. Siberia, central and northwest Africa, western Australia and Mexico all saw a warmer-than-usual April, as did the Arctic Ocean and the coast of Alaska.

May 2020 was the hottest May on record and the third monthly record in the year to date. The global mean temperature in May 2020 was 0.99 °C above the 1951 to 1980 average. May 2020 also recorded the warmest ocean temperatures on record 0.61 °C above the 1951 to 1980 average. Very warm conditions were again present across most of Asia, including record monthly averages for parts of central Asia. In May warm conditions were also present in both the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as parts of Africa, South America, and Central America. Globally, June 2020 tied June 2019 as the hottest month on record. 

The period from January to May was the second warmest on record. During this time we also saw record breaking heat over almost 10 percent of the Earth's surface. The average temperatures in Asia, Europe, and South America set record high temperature records for this period. Eighty-fvie percent of the Earth was above average and only, 1.5 percent of the Earth’s surface was significantly cooler than the 1951 to 1980 average for the period between January and May. In Russia, a new record average for this period was set at 5.3 °C above the 1951-1980 average. This was also the largest January to May temperature anomaly ever observed in any country’s national average.  Globally, the period from July 2019 to June 2020 was the hottest 12 months ever recorded.

This year (2020) will be one of the hottest -- if not the hottest on record -- putting us on track to see a 3°C temperature increase by 2026. According to Berkeley Earth’s analysis we have an 89 percent chance that 2020 will be the hottest year on record and a 98 percent chance that it will be in the top 2. This is consistent with the expectation that we will see an average temperature of 1.36 °C above preindustrial norms by the end of the year. That is only 0.14 °C under the upper temperature threshold limit.  If we include the June data we are already 1.39 °C above preindustrial norms, which is only 0.11 °C below the threshold limit.

This article was updated on July 8 to include global temperature data from June 2020.

More Record Breaking Heat
2019 Adds More Data Points to the Constellation of Hot Data
Heat Records Tell Us What We Need to Know

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