2021 was among the seven hottest years on record, says UN body

Last year was the seventh consecutive year, starting with 2015, when the global average temperature was more than 1°C above pre-industrial levels, the data sets compiled by the WMO show
Smoke billows from a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, on September 10, 2019. (REUTERS/File)
Smoke billows from a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, on September 10, 2019. (REUTERS/File)
Published on Jan 19, 2022 03:12 PM IST
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ByJayashree Nandi

NEW DELHI: Last year was one of the seven hottest years on record, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a United Nations body, said on Wednesday.

Although La Niña conditions between 2020 and 2022 had a cooling effect on the global average temperatures, 2021 was still one of the seven hottest years on record, six international data sets consolidated by the WMO have revealed. La Niña refers to a large-scale cooling of the ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. It has a temporary global cooling effect.

The average global temperature last year was 1.11 (± 0.13) degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, spanning the period from 1850 to 1900.

Last year was the seventh consecutive year, starting with 2015, when the global average temperature was more than 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the data sets compiled by the WMO show.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service estimated that 2021 was the fifth hottest year on record, and marginally hotter than 2015 and 2018. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Berkeley Earth found that 2021 was the sixth hottest year on record.

Nasa GISTEMP and HadCRUT also said that 2021 was the sixth hottest year on record. Data from the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) Reanalysis Rank 2021 show that last year was indeed the seventh hottest year on record.

Also Read: Centre lists districts vulnerable to climate crisis in 1st weather hazard atlas

The differences in the data sets indicate the margin of error for calculating the average global temperature.

Since the 1980s, each decade has been hotter than the previous one, according to the data put together by the UN body, and the trend is likely to continue.

The hottest seven years have all been recorded since 2015, with 2016, 2019 and 2020 topping the list. A strong El Niño event occurred in 2016, which had sparked record global average warming.

“Back-to-back La Niña events mean that 2021 warming was relatively less pronounced compared to recent years. Even so, 2021 was still warmer than previous years influenced by La Niña. The overall long-term warming as a result of greenhouse gas increases is now far larger than the year-to-year variability in global average temperatures caused by naturally occurring climate drivers,” said WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas.

“The year 2021 will be remembered for a record-shattering temperature of nearly 50 degrees Celsius in Canada, comparable to the values reported in the hot Saharan desert of Algeria, exceptional rainfall, and deadly flooding in Asia and Europe as well as drought in parts of Africa and South America. Climate change impact and weather-related hazards had life-changing and devastating impact on communities on every single continent,” Taalas said.

Last year was also the fifth hottest during the past 121 years for India, after 2016, 2009, 2017 and 2010, according to the Annual Climate Statement 2021 released by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) last week.

The annual mean air temperature was 0.44 degrees Celsius above normal in 2021, while in 2016, it was 0.71°C above normal; 0.55°C in 2009; 0.54°C in 2017 and 0.53°C in 2010.

“This is certainly an impact of global warming. The fact that the most recent years after 2000 are recorded to be the warmest years is not just true for India but also globally. That is why we are preparing better forecast strategies in view of global warming,” said M Mohapatra, director general of the IMD.

The Paris Agreement aims to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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