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2020 was second-hottest year ever recorded, experts say

Last Updated Jan 14, 2021 at 4:04 pm PDT

2020 ranks as the second-hottest year on record for the planet, knocking 2019 down to third hottest, according to an analysis by NOAA scientists. Markus Spiske

The year 2020 may be behind us but it didn’t leave without signalling a few critical and hazardous trends; in this case when it comes to our climate.

According to the latest data released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), numbers show that 2020 ranks as the second-hottest year, with average temperatures hitting 58.77 degrees Fahrenheit (and 14.8 Celsius); only 0.04 degrees cooler than 2016, which still holds the current record.

“The world’s seven-warmest years have all occurred since 2014, with 10 of the warmest years occurring since 2005,” NOAA says.

“North America had its 10th-warmest year on record.”

Among the NOAA’s findings, scientists determined that the year 2020 was Europe’s warmest on record. It was the first where Europe’s annual temperature departure was over 2.0 degrees Celsius.

From 2014 to 2020 all rank among Europe’s seven warmest years on record.

680 NEWS meteorologist Natasha Ramsahai says a stable climate is characterized by a balance of warm and cold years which hasn’t happened in a while.

“The trend is concerning because the top 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since the year 2000 and the top six warmest years have all happened in the last six years,” she says.

“The frequency at which we’re setting new, annual warm records is rising.”


The Northern Hemisphere experienced its hottest year on record, surpassing the 20th-century average by 2.3 degrees.

“The 2020 annual global sea-surface temperature was the third-highest on record at 1.37 degrees F (0.76 of a degree Celsius) above the 20th-century average – only 2016 and 2019 were warmer,” NOAA says.

The daunting record comes after historic wildfires in Australia and the U.S. increased the pressure on governments to address global warming and the impacts of climate change.

In 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump departed from the Paris Agreement that set up a global structure to reduce carbon emissions.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – whose government released a $15-billion plan to meet its climate change commitments – touched on the issue, saying he admires President-elect Joe Biden’s climate change plan, which includes $2 trillion in investment for clean-energy infrastructure.

We’re seeing a world that is changing rapidly. The rise of a much more assertive and sometimes problematic China, the shifts in poles of power around the world, the rise and strengthening of Asia as an economic focal point,” Trudeau told Reuters.

“These are things that are needing to be responded to.”