It is now a sad routine: that of a series of years marking temperature records, witnesses of an overheating planet. 2020 was one of the three hottest years on record – neck and neck with 2016 and 2019 – and it competed with 2016 for the top spot, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) final toll.
This situation was all the more exceptional given that 2020 was marked by a high amplitude La Niña episode, a cooling of the equatorial Pacific which reduced the global temperature of the planet and which limited the heat at the end of the year. Conversely, the record year 2016 was marked by a very intense El Niño episode, which accentuates the warming. “Approaching a temperature record during a major La Niña episode is unheard of”, assures the climatologist (CNRS) Christophe Cassou. “This clearly shows that the global signal of human-induced climate change is now as powerful as the force of nature”, Judge WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas in a statement.
For the first time in its history, WMO has not been able to stop its ranking of the warmest years. Indeed, the five global datasets on which it is based have concluded that there are very small differences between the years 2020, 2019 and 2016, which “All fall within the margin of error of the WMO global mean temperature calculation.” NASA and the European Center for Weather Forecasts estimate that 2020 is the hottest year on record tied for 2016. The US Ocean and Atmospheric Observation Agency (NOAA) and the UK Meteorological Services (Met Office) have both ranked 2020 as the second hottest year behind 2016. Finally, the Japanese Meteorological Service ranks 2020 as the third hottest.
Record temperatures in France
“The ranking of temperatures for different years is only a glimpse of a much longer term trend. Since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the last. Greenhouse gases which trap heat in the atmosphere remain at record levels and the long lifespan of carbon dioxide, the most important gas, commits the planet to future warming ”, warns Petteri Taalas.
The decade 2011-2020 was thus the hottest on record and the six years since 2015 have all reached records. 2020 was by far the warmest year in Europe, with 0.4 ° C above 2019, and over 2.2 ° C above the pre-industrial period (1850-1900). It also marked a record temperature in France since the start of measurements in 1900.
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