London: Climate scientists warned 2020 could be the world’s hottest year on record, with September temperatures eclipsing previous highs and Arctic ice retreating from the seas it usually covers.
Global year-to-date temperatures show little deviation from 2016, the warmest calendar year recorded so far, Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service reported on Wednesday. Climate patterns like La Niña in the Pacific Ocean, occurring for the first time in eight years, could determine whether this year turns out to be the warmest on record, according to the researchers.
In September, temperatures reached 0.63 degrees Celsius (1.15 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 30-year historical average, with the Siberian Arctic and southeastern Europe in particular feeling the warming effects of climate change. Arctic sea ice reached its second-lowest extent for September, continuing a fast decline since satellites started monitoring the ice in 1979.
“There was an unusually rapid decline in Arctic sea ice extent during June and July, in the same region where above average temperatures were recorded,” Copernicus Director Carlo Buontempo said. “The combination of record temperatures and low Arctic sea ice in 2020 highlight the importance of improved and more comprehensive monitoring in a region warming faster than anywhere else in the world.”
This year’s record temperatures included an August reading of 54.4 Celsius (129.9 Fahrenheit) in Death Valley, possibly the highest ever recorded on earth. Wildfires have also ravaged Australia and western parts of the U.S., including California, where land burned has passed a record 4 million acres, the state’s fire department said on Sunday.