The weather bar code got a new stripe this Thursday after NOAA, NASA and Berkley Earth announced the 2021 planetary temperature balance. What you see above is the temperature in the world from 1850 (left) to 2021 ( right).
Each stripe represents a year. Note how a century ago, years of lower temperature prevailed (in blue) and how the world has become warmer (red and brown) in recent years, but especially now in this last decade.
The announcement of the new stripe was made by climate scientist Ed Hawkins, a professor at the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in the United States.
Hakwins became one of the most important figures in the climate community precisely when he created the climate stripes, a simple and didactic way to communicate the warming of cities, countries and the world on a complex and technical topic such as climate change.
2021 was another dark red stripe (but not the darkest red). The warmest 7 years on record are the last 7 years.
— Ed Hawkins (@ed_hawkins) January 13, 2022
According to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), after two consecutive years (2019 and 2020) ranked among the top three warmest on record, the Earth got warmer in 2021.
But not much. According to an analysis by scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), 2021 ranked sixth on the list of the warmest years on record, since 1880.
The Earth’s average land and ocean surface temperature in 2021 was 0.84°C above the 20th century average. It also marked the 45th consecutive year (since 1977) with global temperatures rising above the 20th century average. The years 2013-2021 are all among the ten warmest years on record.
The 2021 global mean surface temperature of the Earth tied with 2018 as the sixth warmest on record, according to independent analyzes done by NASA, in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NASA uses the period 1951-1980 as a baseline to see how the global temperature changes over time. The last eight years are the warmest years since modern records began in 1880, the space agency says.
According to NASA’s temperature record, the Earth in 2021 was 1.1°C warmer than the average at the end of the 19th century, the beginning of the industrial revolution.
“Science leaves no room for doubt: climate change is the existential threat of our time,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Eight of the 10 warmest years on our planet have occurred in the last decade, an indisputable fact that underscores the need for bold action to safeguard the future of our country – and all of humanity.
NASA’s scientific research into how the Earth is changing and getting warmer will guide communities around the world, helping humanity face the climate and mitigate its devastating effects.”
Berkeley Earth, as well as NASA and NOAA, similarly concluded that 2021 was nominally the 6th warmest year since the beginning of direct observations with a temperature 1.2°C above pre-industrial.
Temperatures in 2021 were lower than in 2020, in part due to a persistent La Niña event. Temperatures in 2021 were similar to 2015 and 2018, and given the uncertainties, those 5th, 6th and 7th ranked years are all essentially tied, he said. However, the last seven years stand out as the seven warmest years since the beginning of instrumental measurements.
While not a record year, most of the Earth’s surface had temperatures well above what was typical in the mid-20th century. In total, 25 countries appear to have set new records for their average annual temperature, including China, South Korea. , Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.
China’s national average temperature reached 2.0°C above pre-industrial for the first time in 2021. At the recent rate of warming, the world will reach 1.5°C above pre-industrial around 2033 and 2.0 °C around 2060, according to the university’s forecast.