According to an analysis by NASA, the Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record.
Continuing the planet’s long-term warming trend, the 2020 global average temperature was 1.02 degrees warmer than the average baseline for 1951 to 1980, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). 2020 edged out 2016 by a very small amount, within the margin of error of the analysis, making the years effectively tied for the warmest year on record.
Globally, 2020 was the hottest year on record, effectively tying 2016, the previous record. Overall, Earth’s average temperature has risen more than 2 degrees F since the 1880s. The effects of rising temperatures are felt around the world.https://t.co/EwVayzo1HK pic.twitter.com/kGHAexfgcc
— NASA Earth (@NASAEarth) January 14, 2021
“The last seven years have been the warmest seven years on record, typifying the ongoing and dramatic warming trend,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. “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.”
Tracking global temperature trends provides a critical indicator of the impact of human activities, specifically, greenhouse gas emissions, on our planet. Earth’s average temperature has risen more than 1.2 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century.
Rising temperatures are causing phenomena such as loss of sea ice and ice sheet mass, sea-level rise, longer and more intense heatwaves, and shifts in plant and animal habitats. Understanding such long-term climate trends is essential for the safety and quality of human life, allowing humans to adapt to the changing environment in ways such as planting different crops, managing our water resources and preparing for extreme weather events.