The past nine years are among the “top 10” hottest years ever recorded on Earth, and 2021 ranks sixth, according to the annual report of a leading US science agency.
These data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) once again underline the extent of global warming, experts have hammered.
And they confirm the major trend observed by the analyzes of NASA, made public simultaneously, as well as those of the European Copernicus Earth observation service, revealed on Monday.
Despite slight differences in their rankings, all of these agencies tell the same story, namely “that the planet has warmed up dramatically”, said at a press conference Russell Vose, head of climate monitoring at NOAA.
And “all of this is driven by rising concentrations of heat-trapping gases,” like CO2, he added.
The past eight years are the warmest on record since records began in 1880, according to NOAA.
And the nine years from 2013 to 2021 are part of the “top 10” – the tenth missing year not going back far, since it is 2010 (ranked in ninth position).
According to NOAA, 2021 is in sixth place.
The average temperature recorded last year was thus 1.04°C higher than the pre-industrial era (1880-1900).
However, the objective of the Paris agreement is to contain global warming “significantly” below +2°C, and if possible at +1.5°C, compared to the pre-industrial era.
“At some point in the 2030s, or certainly by the early 2040s, average global temperatures will almost certainly exceed 1.5°C,” said Russell Vose.
The emission reduction commitments made by the various countries, including those announced at COP26 in November, leave the world on a warming trajectory of 2.7°C for the moment, a level qualified as “catastrophic”. by the UN.
The 2021 average was pulled down by the La Nina weather phenomenon, which tends to cool temperatures.
But NOAA points out that the average land surface temperature in the northern hemisphere last year was listed as the third highest since 1880.
And the average size of Arctic sea ice was the ninth smallest since records began in 1979. Sea ice tends to melt a little faster each year in the summer, and replenish a little less in the winter. .
The warming in the Arctic is about three times faster than the warming of the entire planet, pointed out Gavin Schmidt, of NASA’s Goddard Institute, during the same press conference. This accentuates the rise in water levels and the release of CO2.
The European service Copernicus had ranked the year 2021 in fifth place on Monday, but it is not uncommon for agencies to present slight differences in their data, due to different methodologies.
They agree that 2016 remains the hottest year on record.
According to Russell Vose, the year 2022 has a “99% chance” of also ranking in the “top 10”.
The current global warming is clearly attributable to human activities and in particular to fossil fuels (gas, oil, coal). It has the consequence of amplifying extreme climatic phenomena.
“We have reached a point where global warming data is no longer an esoteric or academic measure of what is happening, but is reflected in the weather and events that we see,” said Gavin Schmidt.
The year 2021 has thus seen Siberia and California ravaged by flames, spectacular floods in Germany and Belgium, Australia and China, a delirious heat wave in Canada…
While some weather events are difficult to link directly to climate change, others can now be clearly attributed to it, such as the heat wave in western North America this summer.
Kristina Dahl, a climatologist with the “Union of Concerned Scientists”, reacted to the report’s publication on Thursday: “What terrifies me about these latest data (…) is that they are not even surprising or shocking anymore”, she said in a statement, calling on politicians to take “resolute” action.
“Temperatures will continue to rise as long as we continue to increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” said Gavin Schmidt.