2020 remains in a “dead heat” with 2016 for the hottest year on record, scientists with NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revealed January 14.

Based upon ocean temperature level data from buoys, floats and ships, as well as temperatures measured over land at weather stations around the globe, the U.S. agencies carried out independent analyses and got to a similar conclusion.

NASA’s analysis showed 2020 to be somewhat hotter, while NOAA’s revealed that 2016 was still slightly ahead. The differences in those assessments are within margins of mistake, “so it’s effectively an analytical tie,” said NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt of the Goddard Institute for Area Research Studies in New York City at a Jan. 14 news conference.

NOAA environment scientist Russell Vose, who is likewise based in New york city City, described in the news conference the severe warmth that happened over land in 2015, including a months-long heat wave in Siberia ( SN: 12/21/20). Europe and Asia recorded their most popular average temperature levels on record in 2020, with South America tape-recording its second warmest.

It’s possible that 2020’s temperatures in some locations might have been even higher if not for huge wildfires. Vose noted that smoke lofted high into the stratosphere as an outcome of Australia’s extreme fires in early 2020 may have a little reduced temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere, though this is not yet known ( SN: 12/15/20).

The El Niño stage was waning at the start of 2020, and a La Niña was starting, so the general effect of this pattern was muted for the year. Without that, “2020 would have been by far the hottest year on record,” he stated.

However put in the larger picture, these rankings “do not inform the whole story,” Vose stated. “The last six to 7 years really stand apart above the remainder of the record, suggesting the type of fast warming we’re seeing. [And] each of the past four years was warmer than the one preceding it.”


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