Climate change continued its march through 2020 and is on track to be one of the three warmest years since records began. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the decade from 2011 to 2020 will be the warmest on record and the six warmest years are those recorded since 2015.
Oceanic heat has reached record levels. In 2020, a heat wave affected more than 80% of the world’s ocean at any given time, causing extensive repercussions on marine ecosystems already threatened by further acidification of the waters due to the absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to the report.
The report, which draws on the contributions of numerous experts and international organizations, illustrates how high-impact events, such as extreme heat, wildfires and floods, as well as a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season, affected millions of people, compounding the threats of the COVID-19 pandemic to human health and safety and economic stability.
According to the report, despite confinement by COVID-19, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continued to rise, condemning the planet to further warming for many more generations due to the long permanence of CO2 in the atmosphere.
“In 2020, the global average temperature will be around 1.2 ° C higher than pre-industrial levels (1850-1900). There is at least one chance in five that it will temporarily exceed 1.5 ° C in 2024,” said the WMO Secretary General, Professor Petteri Taalas. “This year is the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change. We welcome all the commitments that governments have recently made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as we are currently not on the right track and we must redouble our efforts.”
“Record heat years have generally coincided with a strong El Niño episode, as was the case in 2016. A La Niña event is currently developing, which although it has a cooling effect on world temperatures, has not been enough to counteract this year’s heat. And although La Niña conditions are currently in place, this year there has already been an almost record rise in temperatures, comparable to the previous record in 2016, “added Professor Taalas.
“Sadly, 2020 has been another extraordinary year for our climate. New extreme temperatures have occurred on the land surface, in the sea and especially in the Arctic. Wildfires destroyed large areas in Australia, Siberia, the west coast of the United States and South America, and smoke plumes circled the globe.A record number of hurricanes were recorded in the Atlantic, including an unprecedented consecutive occurrence of Category 4 hurricanes in November in Central America. some parts of Africa and Southeast Asia caused massive population displacements and undermined the food security of millions of people”, he concluded.