BBC – By Matt McGrath
The Earth continued to endure a period of significant heating in 2020 according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Its provisional assessment suggests this year will be one of the three hottest, just behind 2016 and 2019.
The warmest six years in global records dating back to 1850 have now all occurred since 2015.
The most notable warmth was in the Siberian Arctic, where temperatures were 5C above average.
How do we know the temperature for 2020 when the year isn’t over yet?
To work out the annual rise in temperatures for their State of the Climate report, the WMO uses information from five different global datasets.
They then compare modern readings to temperatures taken between 1850-1900. This baseline figure is sometimes referred to as pre-industrial levels.
With data available from January to October this year, the WMO says 2020 is set to be around 1.2C above the baseline, but with a margin of error of 0.1C.
All five datasets currently have 2020 as the second warmest, behind 2016 and ahead of 2019, based on comparisons with similar periods in previous years.
However the expectation from scientists is that the temperature data from November and December will likely see enough cooling to push 2020 into third spot.
That’s because a La Niña weather event has developed in the Pacific Ocean and this normally depresses temperatures.
Despite this, the WMO is certain that 2020 will remain one of the warmest three.
“Record warm years have usually coincided with a strong El Niño event, as was the case in 2016,” said Prof Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary General.
“We are now experiencing a La Niña, which has a cooling effect on global temperatures, but has not been sufficient to put a brake on this year’s heat.”
Are these small temperature differences important?
These relatively similar global temperature figure recorded over the past few years hide considerable differences at local level.
In 2020, Siberia saw temperatures around 5C above average, which culminated in a reading of 38C at Verkhoyansk on the 20th June, which is provisionally the highest known temperature recorded anywhere north of the Arctic Circle.
Read the rest of the article here: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-55150910