In a new video released on Thursday, NASA announced that 2020 & 2016 were the warmest years on record. Importantly, the science agency highlighted this warming is part of a stark trend, largely caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases amassing in the atmosphere.’
“The last decade was the warmest decade on record,” said NASA. The agency’s modern temperature records go back well over a century, to 1880. And in the last forty years, Earth’s temperature rise has been accelerating.
2020’s record fire seasons and plummeting Arctic sea ice are likely consequences of human-caused climate change, the agency said.
Earth’s global surface temperature in 2019 was the second warmest since modern record-keeping began in 1880 and 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (0.98 degrees Celsius) warmer than 1951 to 1980 mean, according to an analysis by NASA.
Globally, the average temperature was second only to that of 2016 and continued the planet’s long-term warming trend: the past five years have been the warmest of the last 140 years.
“The last seven years have been the warmest seven years on record, typifying the ongoing and dramatic warming trend,” said NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. “Whether one year is a record or not is not really that important – the important things are long-term trends. With these trends, and as the human impact on the climate increases, we have to expect that records will continue to be broken.”
Rising temperatures are causing phenomena such as loss of sea ice and ice sheet mass, sea-level rise, longer and more intense heatwaves, and shifts in plant and animal habitats. Understanding such long-term climate trends is essential for the safety and quality of human life, allowing humans to adapt to the changing environment in ways such as planting different crops, managing our water resources and preparing for extreme weather events said agency.