According to multiple newly disclosed temperature readings, Earth had its sixth warmest year on record in 2021.
According to experts, the unusually warm year is part of a long-term warming trend that is showing signs of speeding up.
On Thursday, two US research organizations — NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — as well as a private monitoring firm presented their estimations for last year’s global temperature, all indicating that it was not far behind the record-breaking years of 2016 and 2020.
According to six independent estimations, the year 2021 was the fifth or seventh warmest since the late 1800s. According to NASA, 2021 is tied for sixth hottest year with 2018, whereas NOAA puts 2018 in sixth place all by itself.
According to scientists, a La Nina — a natural cooling of portions of the central Pacific that affects global weather patterns and brings cold deep ocean water to the surface – lowered world temperatures in 2016, just as its polar opposite, El Nino, increased them.
Nonetheless, they said that 2021 was the hottest La Nina year on record, and that the year did not signal a pause in human-caused climate change, but rather brought more of the same.
“So it’s not nearly as headline-grabbing as being the warmest on record,” said climate scientist Zeke Hausfather of the Berkeley Earth monitoring organization, which also listed 2021 as the sixth hottest year. “It’s the long-term tendency, and it’s a never-ending upward march.”
“The long-term trend is very, very evident,” Gavin Schmidt, the NASA climate scientist in charge of the temperature team, said. It’s all because of us. And it won’t go away until we stop adding to the quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”
NASA and NOAA statistics concur that the last eight years have been the eight warmest on record. Their analysis reveals that global temperatures are approximately 2 degrees (1.1 degrees Celsius) higher than 140 years ago, when averaged over a 10-year period to account for natural fluctuation.
The Japanese Meteorological Agency and Copernicus Climate Change Service in Europe, as well as the University of Alabama in Huntsville, provided the remaining 2021 readings.
Temperatures jumped so dramatically eight to ten years ago that experts began to wonder if the trend is accelerating up. Early signals, according to Schmidt and Hausfather, point to it, but it’s difficult to say for sure.
“How many of the recent ten years are significantly higher than the trend line from the prior ten years?” In an interview, Schmidt stated, “Almost all of them.”
In a Thursday news conference, NOAA climate analysis head Russell Vose claimed that 2022 had a 99 percent probability of being among the ten warmest years on record, with a 10% possibility of being the hottest.
According to Vose, the odds of at least one year in the 2020s exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming since pre-industrial times are 50-50, which is the level of warming nations promised to try to avoid in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
While that threshold is significant, extreme weather caused by climate change is already affecting people in their everyday lives, according to Vose and Schmidt, with temperatures rising by around 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit).
According to NOAA, the worldwide average temperature last year was 58.5 degrees (14.7 degrees Celsius). James Hansen, NASA’s then-chief climate scientist, made headlines in 1988 when he testified before Congress about global warming during the hottest year on record at the time. 1988 is now the 28th warmest year on record, with a temperature of 57.7 degrees (14.3 degrees Celsius).
According to Berkeley Earth, 1.8 billion people in 25 Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries, including China, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Myanmar, and South Korea, suffered the warmest year on record last year.
According to a second recent research, the deep ocean, where the majority of heat is held in the oceans, also hit a temperature record in 2021.
“Apart from coral bleaching and endangering marine life and fish populations, ocean warming is undermining Antarctic ice shelves and risking huge… sea level rise if we don’t act,” said research co-author Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University.
According to NOAA and NASA estimations, the last time Earth had a cooler-than-normal year was 1976. According to UN figures, 69 percent of the world’s population — more than 5 billion individuals under the age of 45 — has never seen such a year.
“I’ve only lived in a warmer world and I hope that the future generations did not have to say the same,” North Carolina state climatologist Kathie Dello, 39, who wasn’t involved in the new research but felt they make sense, said. It didn’t have to turn out like this.”