2021 is Earth’s sixth-hottest year, NASA and NOAA say

2021 not only marks extreme weather events Across the country and the West — it was also the sixth-warmest year on record for Earth, federal officials announced Thursday.

The average temperature on Earth’s land and ocean surfaces last year was 1.51 degrees warmer than the 20th century average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a report. new reportAnother NASA analysis also concluded that 2021 is the sixth-warmest year on record, tied with 2018.

Experts from the two agencies say the global warming trend is largely driven by greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s clear that each of the past four years has been warmer than the previous one,” said Russell Vose, director of climate monitoring at NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information. driven by increased concentrations of endothermic gases such as carbon dioxide.”

Last year was the 45th year in a row that global temperatures were above average, meaning the planet hasn’t had a below-average year since 1976, the report said. What’s more, 2013 to 2021 were among the 10 warmest years since records began in 1880.

There’s also a “99 percent chance” of being in the top 10 in 2022, Vose said.

“The punchline here is that it doesn’t matter how you do your analysis — they all tell you that the planet has warmed significantly over the past century,” he said.

The U.S. performed even worse overall than the world, with 2021 being the fourth warmest year on record for the U.S., According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Many severe warming effects are being felt in the West, where unusual droughts, extreme wildfires and simmering heatwaves have occurred California’s hottest summer on record.

One Heatwave in the Pacific Northwest Washington and Oregon broke all-time temperature records in June, while the Dixie Fire, which started in Plumas County in July, went on to become California’s second-largest wildfire.

But the region’s experience is not alone, as global warming has caused major climate anomalies across the country and around the world, including Great flood in Germany, sandstorms in Beijing and the worst locust plague in East Africa in decades.

“Unfortunately, we certainly expect to see more of these extreme events in a warming world,” Voss said. “Without global warming, some of this year’s events might or might not even have happened — or at least they would have gotten worse because of it.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there will be 20 multi-billion-dollar disasters in the United States in 2021.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there will be 20 multi-billion-dollar disasters in the United States in 2021.


In the United States alone, 20 multi-billion-dollar weather and climate disasters have killed at least 688 people, more than double the 262 deaths the previous year, the report said. The losses from these U.S. disasters totaled about $145 billion.

These exceptions include Texas Freeze February, one of the coldest events in the U.S. in more than 30 years, and Hurricane Ida to hit the Northeast unprecedented rainfall In September, dozens of people died.And in December, a Nearly 70 tornadoes erupted At least 90 people were killed in several southeastern states. A tornado spread nearly 166 miles across the ground.

While the researchers can’t say these events are specifically triggered by rising temperatures, they say global warming has an effect on many extreme weather events.

“Many heatwaves, heavy rainfall and flooding events will be found to be caused by anthropogenic warming,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Independent Analysis of Nonprofit Research Organizations Berkeley Earth It was also found that 2021 is the sixth warmest year on Earth since 1850.

Their report estimates that 1.8 billion people will experience a record annual average in 2021, including most of China’s population. A total of 25 countries recorded record averages.

Meanwhile, scientists from Europe Copernicus Observations put 2021 as the world’s fifth-hottest year on record.

Officials say last year wasn’t as hot as 2020 tied with 2016 As the hottest year on record — in part because La Niña continues through most of 2021. La Niña brings some cooler water to the surface and may cause a slight drop in global temperatures.

But overall ocean heat content — which describes the heat stored in the upper layers of the ocean — surpassed 2020, reaching a record high last year, according to the NOAA report. The seven highest ocean heat contents have occurred in the past seven years.

“The point is, the ocean stores a lot of heat,” Voss said.

It is also worth noting that Continued loss of Arctic sea ice.

Arctic temperatures are changing three times faster than the global average, Schmidt said, and sea ice loss has far-reaching consequences, as melting glaciers and ice sheets increase sea level rise and cause permafrost to thaw and release carbon — Essentially “amplified feedback on climate change”. climate change. ”

“The last seven years have seemed a bit anomalous, but we’ve come to a point where the global warming data we’re talking about here is no longer an esoteric or academic measure of what’s going on, but is reflected in the weather and the events we’re seeing, “He said.

For years, scientists and world officials have urged limiting the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s now a 50/50 chance that the threshold will be reached for at least one year of the decade, and the global average temperature is almost certain to exceed it in the 2030s or early 2040s, Vose said.

“We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close to the point where the trajectory is unlikely to change as long as we keep emitting greenhouse gases,” he said.

Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may help prevent this moment, but may not be able to completely reverse it, as carbon dioxide emissions can linger in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.

“If we have net zero carbon dioxide and we reduce other greenhouse gases as well, then we can stabilize the temperature,” Schmidt said. “It won’t get cooler, but it won’t get worse.”

While the 1.5C limit is significant, the effects of climate change are not yet on, he said, noting that more are likely to be felt in the coming years.

“We’re going to see more and more extreme heat waves, heavier rainfall and more coastal flooding,” Schmidt said. “Next year may not be the Pacific Northwest, but it will be somewhere and we obviously have to be prepared.”