Last year was the sixth-hottest on record and all of the seven hottest years have occurred in the last seven years, NOAA, NASA, and Berkeley Earth scientists announced yesterday. Different scientific entities calculate global temperature averages in slightly different ways, and recent analyses from six major scientific institutions have all put 2021 between the fifth- and seventh-hottest year since the industrial revolution.
The 2021 temperatures – while not record-breaking in and of themselves – are alarming because the expected cooling La Niña cycle last year failed to lower global temperatures any further. “It’s not quite as headline-dominating as being the warmest on record, but give it another few years and we’ll see another one of those” records, Zeke Hausfather of the Berkeley Earth monitoring group told the AP. “It’s the long-term trend, and it’s an indomitable march upward.” That upward march is caused by the human extraction and combustion of fossil fuels.
“We are reaping what we’ve sown,” NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt told the Washington Post.
Not to be outdone, 2022 is already adding to the record books with 123.3°F heat in Onslow, Western Australia on January 2 – a high that ties the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere. (AP, Washington Post $, Gizmodo, Axios, Reuters, The Guardian, Grist, Yale Climate Connections, Wall Street Journal $, The Verge, E&E $, Bloomberg $; Australia: Washington Post $, The Guardian, Gizmodo; Climate Signals background: Global warming, Extreme heat and heatwaves)