Climate crisis: November 2020 was world’s warmest on record

Year on track to overtake 2016 and become hottest since records began

Harry Cockburn
Monday 07 December 2020 11:05 GMT
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November was around to 0.8C above the standard 30-year reference period of 1981-2010
November was around to 0.8C above the standard 30-year reference period of 1981-2010

November 2020 has been the world’s warmest since records began, and this year is on track to become the hottest year overall, according to the European Union’s climate monitoring service Copernicus.

Europe experienced its warmest autumn on record, while the Arctic and Siberia continued to be “significantly” warmer than average, scientists from the Copernicus Climate Change Service said.

Meanwhile, Arctic sea ice saw its second-lowest November extent.

The service said by the end of the year, it is “almost certain” 2020 will become the hottest calendar year on record overall.

For Europe, 2020 is 0.5C warmer than the January - November period for 2019, the warmest calendar year on record, and at least 0.4C warmer than the average temperature in 2006 which was previously the warmest autumn.

Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, said: “Globally, November was an exceptionally warm month compared to other Novembers, and temperatures in the Arctic and northern Siberia remained consistently high, with sea ice at its second lowest extent.

“This trend is concerning and highlights the importance of comprehensive monitoring of the Arctic, as it is warming faster than the rest of the world.”

He added: “These records are consistent with the long-term warming trend of the global climate. All policy-makers who prioritise mitigating climate risks, should see these records as alarm bells and consider more seriously than ever how to best comply with the international commitments set out in the 2015 Paris agreement.”

The scientists said with just one month left of the year, the satellite data has revealed 2020 is roughly on a par with 2016 - the warmest calendar year on record, closely followed by 2019.

November 2020 was ‘exceptionally warm’, with sea ice at its second-lowest ever extent for the month

Based on data from several global datasets and including data up until October, the World Meteorological Organisation announced last week 2020 is on track to become one of the world’s three warmest years on record.

On 2 December the WMO warned: “Ocean heat is at record levels and more than 80 per cent of the global ocean experienced a marine heatwave at some time in 2020, with widespread repercussions for marine ecosystems already suffering from more acidic waters due to carbon dioxide absorption.”

With most of December still to go, the additional month of data means 2020 is now even closer to the 2016 record.

“The calendar year of 2020 as a whole is likely to remain on a par with or become marginally warmer than 2016 unless the global temperature anomaly falls significantly from November to December, which would not be unprecedented,” the Copernicus Climate Change Service said.

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