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2020 to Place in Top 5 for the Hottest Years on Record – if not Higher

With 2020 more than halfway over, it is clear that this year will rank among the hottest in recorded history and possibly break the all-time record set in 2016. If 2020 does top the list, it will do so without the major El Niño event that boosted global temperatures four years ago—and thus will provide an important marker of the power of the long-term warming trend driven by human activities that emit greenhouse gases. “Until we stop doing that, we’re going to see this over and over again,” says Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which keeps the agency’s temperature records.

In its first seven months, 2020 has been the second-warmest year on the books, a mere 0.07 degree Fahrenheit behind 2016 at the same point, according to new data released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (whose records go back 141 years). This ranking now means “there’s no question that 2020 will be a top-five year,” Schmidt says. By his calculations, it has a 70 percent chance of becoming the hottest year, while NOAA gives it a 37 percent chance. The variation is partly because of the different ways each agency processes temperature data: NOAA does not extrapolate temperatures over the Arctic to make up for missing data there. And Schmidt says leaving that information out misses one of the fastest-warming spots on the globe.

Read more at Scientific American

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