The scientist wrote that in the first nine months of 2020, there were record concentrations of greenhouse gases including methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.
Climate change: 2020 is highly likely to be the warmest year on record! Since the collection of reliable records in the mid-1800s, the year 2020 could become the warmest year, US Climate Scientist and Analyst Zeke Hausfather has written in Carbon Brief. He stated that the event is even more remarkable due to the lack of any major El Nino event, which has been a leading factor towards previous warmest years. However, the La Nina event growing over the Pacific could lead to the lowering of temperatures, salvaging the year and bringing it to the position of the second warmest year. The prediction is based on the temperature records by various researchers across the globe.
The scientist wrote that in the first nine months of 2020, there were record concentrations of greenhouse gases including methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, most of the summer saw the Arctic sea ice extent at record low levels and the summer minimum was the second lowest ever recorded, behind only 2012.
Hausfather added that while climate records come handy as benchmarks to understand global warming, it was much more important to track changes in sea ice, temperature and other indicators over time than records set by a single year.
Over the past five decades, there have been clear warning trends, along with hints for potential acceleration recently. Moreover, sea ice volume as well as extent have also been declining.
Climate change: Rising surface temperature
Based on the analysis of six different research teams, including those from NASA, NOAA and Berkeley Earth, Hausfather said that they have found record warmth in surface temperatures. Since 1970, the surface temperature has risen about 0.9 degrees Celsius. This translates to a warming rate of around 0.18 degrees Celsius per decade. In 2020 as well, several months have seen record temperatures. While the six research teams had varying methodologies for calculations, six of the first nine months of 2020 were found to have record warm surface temperatures in at least one of the data sets. These months were January, April, May, June, July and September.
Apart from that, none of the first nine months stands anywhere below the fourth warmest in terms of surface temperature, and this stands true across datasets.
As per the NASA data from 2012, the beginning of the year saw 2020 only behind 2016 in terms of warmth, but 2016 was warm due to the El Nino event, which did not occur in 2020. By September, 2020 was almost tied with 2016 for the warmest year.
While a La Nina event is set to occur by the end of 2020, the effect of the event is more likely to be visible in the first few months of 2021, which means that the next year is likely to be at least somewhat cooler than 2020.
With all the six datasets, the chances of 2020 being either the warmest or the second warmest year after 2016 on record are increasing as 2020 approaches its end, Hausfather stated.