The year 2020 was the hottest in Europe and matched 2016 worldwide


Fires in the Arctic and Australia in 2020, although they had an unprecedented magnitude in their regions, account for only a small fraction of global fire emissions.


The year 2020 was the warmest in the history of Europe and globally equaled the 2016 record, which closed the warmest decade ever recorded, the European land observation program Copernicus announced on Friday.

Copernicus' annual report found that the 2010-2020s were the hottest in history, closing 2020 with a rise of 0.4 degrees Celsius more than in 2019.

The report also revealed that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere continued to increase over the past year at a rate of approximately 2.3 particles per million (ppm) peaking at 431 ppm during the month of May.

The year 2020 was 0.6 degrees Celsius warmer than average between 1981 and 2010 and about 1.25 degrees above the pre-industrial period of 1850-1900.

According to these observations, the largest increase in annual temperature from the 1981-2010 average was concentrated in the Arctic Glacial Ocean and northern Siberia, reaching more than 6ºC above average.


In addition, the forest fire season was unusually active in this region, with fires first detected in May and continuing throughout the summer and well into the fall.

As a result, in the Arctic Circle the fires released a record 244 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2020, more than a third more than the 2019 record, the Copernicus report adds.

During the second half of the year, Arctic ice was significantly lower than average at this time of year, and in July and October there was the smallest extent of sea ice known.

Overall, the northern hemisphere experienced above-average temperatures during 2020 while parts of the southern hemisphere recorded below-average temperatures, especially in the eastern equatorial Pacific, associated with the cooler conditions of the La Niña phenomenon, which developed during the second half of the year.

In addition, in 2015 and 2016 there were strong episodes of El Niño that resulted in a higher rate of atmospheric growth due to weaker than normal absorption of carbon dioxide from forest fires that ravaged vegetation. This contributed to the rising temperatures of the decade.

For their part, fires in the Arctic and Australia in 2020, although they had an unprecedented magnitude in their regions, account for only a small fraction of global fire emissions.

"Although carbon dioxide concentrations have increased slightly less in 2020 than in 2019, this is no cause for celebration. Until global emissions are reduced to zero, carbon dioxide will continue to accumulate and drive climate change," said Copernicus Atmospheric Surveillance Service Director Vincent-Henri Peuch.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Integrated Carbon Observation System estimated that in 2019 there was a reduction of around 7% of carbon dioxide emissions resulting from fossil energy consumption due to widespread fall in mobility.

The Copernicus project, an EU initiative operated with the European Space Agency, aims to observe the environment to better understand environmental changes in land.

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