2020 Could Top 2016 as the Hottest Year on Record

Via Flickr

Nicole Welle | December 28, 2020

The past year brought intense wildfires, an increase in localized heat waves and one of the hottest Novembers on record, so it comes as no surprise that 2020 could be the hottest year ever recorded.

An intense, warming El Niño event occurred four years ago and contributed to the intense heat that caused 2016 to go down as the hottest year on record. This year, a cooling La Niña event should have led to lower global temperatures, but it did not seem to have much of an impact. The first 11 months of 2020 were only 0.2 degrees cooler than 2016, and climate experts have said there is a 55% chance 2020 will beat the record by the end of the year, according to the Associated Press.

Whether 2020 beats the record is less important than what the global temperature trend has revealed over the last decade. 2020 will mark the end of the hottest five-year period since recording began in 1880, a disturbing statistic that climate scientists say will continue into the future. Greenhouse gas concentrations are still rising in the atmosphere. This will cause global temperatures to continue to rise and lead to more years with increasingly intense hurricanes, more wildfires, less sea ice and longer heat waves, according to an NPR article.

Governments and corporations will have to make major changes in prioritizing environmental action if there is any hope of reducing future climate-driven disasters like these. Climate-driven disasters can cause billions of dollars of damage, and they take a heavy toll on human health and life, often disproportionately affecting poor communities and exacerbating inequality. Governments around the world are taking steps to reduce emissions and Joe Biden has promised to aid in the effort to reduce global emissions once he takes office. However, climate scientists say that these extreme events will continue to increase in intensity, so it is important that governments and communities prepare for them as much as possible.

Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts cold, snowy winter

A barn and snow covered field in southern Linn County. (Rich Herrmann/Flickr)
A barn sits on a snow covered field in southern Linn County during the 2014-2015 winter. (Rich Herrmann/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | August 19, 2015

If predictions in the Old Farmer’s Almanac are correct, Americans should brace for a cold and snowy winter even in parts of the country that typically see more mild temperatures.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac – which has been in publication since 1792 – predicts that the Midwest will see frigid conditions while the Northeast will experience below-average temperatures. Parts of the South are expected to see icy conditions and the traditionally temperate Pacific Northwest will experience its snowiest weather beginning around the middle of December and possibly continuing through February.

“Just about everybody who gets snow will have a White Christmas in one capacity or another,” Almanac editor Janice Stillman told the Associated Press.

Some meteorologists and other critics question the scientific accuracy of the Almanac’s method for predicting weather patterns. Criticis cite that the Almanac’s formula fails to “account [for] the finer nuances of meteorology, like pressure systems, cyclical weather patterns, and—of late—climate change.” Meteorologists also cite that El Niño will likely be a more accurate indicator of winter weather patterns that the Almanac’s formula.

Though the exact formula is a secret, the Almanac’s writers and editors focus on three main factors.

“We employ three scientific disciplines to make our long-range predictions: solar science, the study of sunspots and other solar activity; climatology, the study of prevailing weather patterns; and meteorology, the study of the atmosphere. We predict weather trends and events by comparing solar patterns and historical weather conditions with current solar activity.”

The first day of winter (the winter solstice) begins on December 21.

2014 sees hottest global temperatures on record

(Japan Meteorological Agency)
(Japan Meteorological Agency)

Nick Fetty | January 9, 2015

Global temperatures in 2014 were the hottest on record according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The record-setting year in 2014 was the hottest since records began being kept in 1891. Researchers with the Japan Meteorological Agency reported that the average temperature in 2014 was 0.27 degrees Celsius higher than the baseline average between 1981 and 2010.

The ten hottest years on record have all come since 1998 and record-setting years in 1998, 2005, and 2010 can partially be attributed to the weather pattern known as El Niño Southern Oscillation, which can cause rises in air temperature. However El Niño was not a factor in 2014 which makes the record-setting year a bit of an anomaly.

Especially hot areas in 2014 included Australia, California, Europe, and Serbia. There was also a temperature increase seen in the earth’s oceans. World temperatures have been rising at a rate of 0.7 degrees Celsius (or 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit) each century since record keeping began.

Blogger Chris Mooney writes that these increases in global temperatures can be attributed to human-caused carbon emissions as he debunks the notion that climate change slowed down since 1998.

While 2014 marked the hottest year on record for global temperatures, it was only the 34th hottest year on record in the United States. The U.S.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is expected to release its 2014 findings next week.

Top 5 Warmest Years on Record

1. 2014 (+0.27°C)

2. 1998 (+0.22°C)

3. 2010 and 2013 (tie) (+0.20°C)

5. 2005 (+0.17°C)