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Last September month was world's hottest on record, and 2020 is on path to become warmest year ever


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Last month was the hottest September ever recorded globally since the 19th century, according to new figures from EU's observation program Copernicus. Previously, both January and May this year also saw record-breaking global temperatures. And despite La Niña cooling down large parts of the world, global temperatures in 2020 are currently in line with 2016 which was the warmest year ever measured in modern times. "There is currently little difference between 2020 and 2016 for the year-to-date," Copernicus senior scientist Freja Vambourg told AFP. Overall, 19 of the past 20 years have been the warmest since global measurements began in the late 19th century.

The figures also show that for the past 12-month period our planet was nearly 1.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That means that we are getting alarmingly closer to the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit in the Paris Climate Agreement and the dangerous threshold for severe climate change impacts such as deadly heatwaves, droughts, tropical storms, rising sea levels, and forest fires. And despite the Paris Climate Agreement - and more recently - a global pandemic, both global temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels have steadily increased in recent decades - and they are showing no signs of slowing down.

“We have been saying this for decades – more and more greenhouse gases will lead to more and more warming,” Ed Hawkins, from Reading University, told BBC News. “One degree of heating is dangerous for some people, as we've seen,” he said. “Two degrees is more dangerous still, and three degrees even more dangerous. We really don’t want to find out what that’ll be like.”

Here are some highlights from the Copernicus report:

  • Globally and in Europe, September 2020 was the warmest September on record.
  • Temperatures were well above average temperatures in many regions, with the notable exception of cool La Niña conditions in eastern tropical Pacific.
  • Arctic sea ice saw its second lowest September average extent on record, more than 40% below the 1981-2020 average, while Antarctic sea ice extent was slightly above average.
  • Drier-than-average conditions occurred in most of Europe. Nevertheless, some regions experienced wetter-than-average conditions, with heavy precipitation causing flooding, for instance in Greece due to medicane Ianos.
  • Tropical storms affected many parts of the world, including hurricanes Sally and Beta in North America, and typhoons Noul and Maysak sweeping over south east Asia and the Korean peninsula and Japan, respectively. 

You can read the full Copernicus report here: https://climate.copernicus.eu/surface-air-temperature-september-2020 

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