New data from leading US climate scientists shows that nearly a quarter of the world’s population experienced a record hot year in 2021, as the climate crisis continues to unleash escalating temperatures around the globe.
The new annual analysis from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), found that last year was the sixth hottest ever recorded, with the global temperature 1.1C above the pre-industrial average.
Bill Nelson administrator of Nasa, said that Science leaves no room for doubt and that climate change is the existential threat of our time, adding that eight out of the top 10 hottest years have occurred in the past decade, which “underscores the need for bold action to safeguard the future of our country – and all of humanity.
There were record-high temperatures in parts of northern Africa, South Asia and parts of South America last year, Arctic sea ice continued its decline and the oceans recorded yet another record year for heat content.
A senior climate scientist at Noaa, Russell Vose was quoted as saying that “the oceans are storing a heck of a lot of heat,”. “If it weren’t for the large heat storage capacity of the oceans, the atmosphere would’ve warmed a lot more rapidly.”
On his part, Director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Gavin Schmidt said that the changes underway in the Arctic, which is warming at about three times the rate of the global average, are “extremely dramatic” and will affect the rest of the world through, among other things, sea-level rise from melting glaciers.
“What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic,” he said.
While 2021 did not top the record heat set in 2020, which was only fractionally hotter than 2016, scientists said last year was yet another demonstration of the long-term global heating that is being caused by human activity, such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now at levels not seen on Earth in the past 4m years. Vose said It doesn’t matter how you do the analysis; it shows you the Earth has warmed quite dramatically.
Earlier this week, the European climate agency Copernicus said 2021 was the fifth hottest year on record, with the last seven years the hottest ever documented. A slight edge was taken off last year’s temperatures by a La Niña, a periodic climatic event that cools the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Despite not being the hottest individual year on record, 2021 did contain several extraordinary signs of climate breakdown. July last year was the world’s hottest month ever recorded, with Death Valley in California recording what may be the hottest temperature ever reliably measured during this month, at 54.4C (130F).
A separate analysis released on Thursday by Berkeley Earth had it that a total of 1.8 billion people, approaching a quarter of the world’s population, are known to live in countries that did experience the hottest year on record.
A total of 25 countries, including China, Nigeria and Iran also recorded a record warm annual average in 2021.