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2021 Joins Top Seven Warmest Years on Record-WMO

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Although average global temperatures were temporarily cooled by the 2020-2022 La Niña events, 2021 was still one of the seven warmest years on record, according to six leading international datasets consolidated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one
Last year joined the list of the seven warmest years on record and was also the seventh consecutive year when the global temperature has been more than 1°C above pre-industrial levels; edging closer to the limit laid out under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. 

The Paris Agreement calls for all countries to strive towards a limit of 1.5°C of global warming through concerted climate action and realistic Nationally Determined Contributions – the individual country plans that need to become a reality to slow down the rate of heating. But the average global temperature in 2021 was about 1.11 (± 0.13) °C above the pre-industrial era levels. 

Although average global temperatures were temporarily cooled by the 2020-2022 La Niña events, 2021 was still one of the seven warmest years on record, according to six leading international datasets consolidated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). 

Global warming and other long-term climate change trends are expected to continue as a result of record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the agency said. Since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one, said WMO and “this is expected to continue.” 

The warmest seven years have all been since 2015; the top three being 2016, 2019 and 2020. An exceptionally strong El Niño event occurred in 2016, which contributed to record global average warming.

“Back-to-back La Niña events mean that 2021 warming was relatively less pronounced compared to recent years. Even so, 2021 was still warmer than previous years influenced by La Niña”, said WMO Secretary-General, Prof. Petteri Taalas. 

“The year 2021 will be remembered for a record-shattering temperature of nearly 50°C in Canada, comparable to the values reported in the hot Saharan Desert of Algeria, exceptional rainfall, and deadly flooding in Asia and Europe as well as drought in parts of Africa and South America”, the WMO chief added.  

He added that Climate Change impacts and weather-related hazards had life-changing and devastating impacts on communities on every single continent.

Temperature is just one of the indicators of climate change. Other key indicators of global heating include greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean heat content, ocean pH levels (levels of acidity), global mean sea level, glacial mass and the extent of sea ice.

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