2020 was the warmest year on record in Europe, surpassing the previous mark by a large margin. This is one of the conclusions of the report. State of Climate 2020, recently published by the American Meteorological Society, which also brings important warnings about the climate in Brazil and the Arctic.
In Europe, last year’s temperatures were more than 1.9°C above the average recorded between 1981 and 2010.
Preliminary information at the beginning of the year already confirmed that 2020 had broken temperature records on the continent – in addition to being one of the three warmest years in the world. Now, the report points out that the difference from previous years was significantly higher than previously thought.
In addition to being 1.9°C warmer than the long-term average, the average temperature in 2020 was 0.5°C higher than the previous record.
“This level of difference – which is large – from the previous long-term average is a matter of concern,” commented Robert Dunn, senior climate scientist at the British Meteorological Agency.
“It’s something to watch out for, but it’s not just the temperatures that are rising – it’s also the extreme events and heat waves that we’re seeing this year and we’ve seen last year.
Other researchers agreed that the scale of Europe’s record heat wave is alarming.
“The difference from the previous record should worry us all,” said climate systems professor Gabi Hegerl of the University of Edinburgh, who is not involved in the study.
“European temperatures are well measured and there are records of them from the beginning of industrialization and even before that, from documentary evidence and records. This long-term context reinforces how unusual this heat is.”
The heat registered on the European continent caused enormous differences in long-term temperature averages to be observed – in countries like Estonia, Finland and Latvia, the high was 2.4°C, for example, which is considered an anomaly.
Brazil and South America
The report also highlights the “widespread drought” experienced last year in South America, “clearly visible in the severe drought anomalies found in central Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.”
“One region that clearly stands out with a severe drought anomaly is the Pantanal, which has experienced its worst drought in 50 years, and more than a quarter of its area has been burned,” the report says.
The text also highlights that rainfall was below normal in most of the center of the South American continent, including the Andes and the Pantanal.
In the world, in general, rainfall was not low, in a clear response to excess heat. The total evaporation was well above average – and the humidity ended up making the feeling of heat even worse in some parts.
Another region that is experiencing rapid warming is the Arctic: temperatures on land have reached worrying new highs, 2.1°C above the average recorded between 1981 and 2010. Temperatures have reached the highest level since the beginning of records, 121 years old.
Together, the indicators show what one of the report’s editors calls “our new normal” in climate.
“This report closely follows (the findings) of the IPCC (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which could not be clearer in its messages,” argues expert Kate Willett, also from the British climate agency.
“Our climate has changed and will likely continue to change unless the main driver, greenhouse gases, is contained. What we are seeing is already draining our society and our environment.”
The concentration of greenhouse gases was also the highest on record, despite many countries having reduced their emissions due to the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.
And the global sea level was the highest on record, rising for the ninth consecutive year.
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