The past seven years have been the warmest on record in the world, with the first analysis of global temperature in 2021 showing it to be 1.2 ° C above pre-industrial levels.
The year’s assessment, carried out by the European climate agency Copernicus, also found that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had reached record levels and that the powerful greenhouse gas methane had jumped “very substantially” , also to achieve a new record.
The increased concentration of greenhouse gases means more heat is trapped than ever before, but 2021 ranked as the fifth hottest year on record. Indeed, a natural, cyclical climatic phenomenon called La Niña exerted a cooling influence in bringing the cold waters of the Pacific to the surface.
The climate crisis continued unabated with extreme weather events hitting across the globe. Europe suffered its hottest summer on record and broke its maximum temperature record in Sicily with 48.8 ° C, while intense forest fires raged in Italy, Greece and Turkey. Severe flooding made up to nine times more likely by global warming also wreaked havoc in Germany and Belgium
The extreme heat has also caused the “mother of all heat waves” in the western United States and Canada. Temperature records were broken by 5 ° C and scientists calculated that the event was made at least 150 times more likely by global warming. In California, the Dixie wildfire was the second largest in history.
China’s meteorological agency recently announced that 2021 was the hottest year on record for the country and that its northern region had experienced its wettest year, with widespread extreme weather conditions. The July floods in Henan province left hundreds dead.
Mauro Facchini, Head of Earth Observation at the European Commission, said: “The 2021 scan is a reminder of the continued rise in global temperatures and the urgent need to act. Copernicus data shows that 21 of the 22 warmest years have occurred since 2000.
“The [extreme weather] The events of 2021 are a stark reminder of the need to change our habits, to take decisive and effective measures towards a sustainable society, ”said Carlo Buontempo, director of the climate department at Copernicus.
The average CO2 levels in 2021 hit a new high of 414 parts per million in 2021 – before the industrial revolution and large-scale burning of fossil fuels, the level was 280 ppm. The CO rate2 The increase has remained the same as since 2010, despite the blockages linked to Covid.
Methane levels are accelerating with the growth rate in 2021, about three times the rate of ten years ago. Methane is emitted from the exploitation of fossil fuels, livestock and other livestock, and natural wetland processes and scientists are not sure what is causing this rapid increase.
Vincent-Henri Peuch, at Copernic, said: “CO2 and methane concentrations continue to increase year on year with no sign of slowing down.
Professor Rowan Sutton, University of Reading, UK, said: ‘Globally, warming may appear gradual, but it is the impact on extreme events in many parts of the world that is dramatic. We should see the record-breaking events of 2021, such as the heatwave in Canada and the flooding in Germany, as a punch in the face to awaken politicians and the public to the urgency of the climate emergency. “
Further temperature data sets for 2021 will be released in the coming weeks by the UK and Japanese Met Offices and Nasa and Noaa in the US, with similar results expected.