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Earth Draws Closer to Climate Change Tipping Points After Another Year of Record Heat

2021-01-08 13:29:02
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Another year of record high heat interrupted a decade-long rise in global temperatures that has placed Earth's economies dangerously close to climate tipping points.

Those are the conclusions published by scientists from the European Union on Friday. Despite the pandemic-induced blockages to the global economy in 2020, greenhouse gas emissions continued to build up in the atmosphere, pushing the world closer to exceeding the 1.5 degree Celsius warming threshold predicted by climate models will lead to more frequent superstorms and higher sea levels .

"The past decade has been the warmest on record, and it is another reminder of the urgency of ambitious emission reductions to prevent adverse climate impacts in the future," said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Chance Service. "2020 is distinguished by its exceptional warmth in the Arctic and a record number of tropical storms in the North Atlantic."

Annual averages of global air temperature at an altitude of two meters estimated change since the pre-industrial period (left axis) and from 1981-2010 (right axis) according to different data sets

Storms, fires and floods have killed at least 8,200 people and cost the world $ 210 billion in insured losses by 2020, according to a report published Thursday by Munich Re. Six of the most costly disasters occurred in the US, including a devastating Midwestern derecho, a record number of tropical storms and hurricane strikes and a record number of high acreage fires in California.

The Copernicus models combine data from scientists in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and the U.S. The agency, which uses billions of measurements from satellites, ships, planes and weather stations around the world for its monthly and seasonal forecasts, concluded that 2020 matched 2016 as & # 39; the world's most popular ever.

Earth's temperature is now only 0.25 degrees Celsius from the limits of the Paris climate agreement.

Image shows average ground temperature from 2007-2018. Frozen Arctic soils will release large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as they continue to thaw for decades to come. Credit: European Space Agency

The regions of the world that experienced the most severe climate change were parts of the Arctic and Northern Siberia, where temperatures in some regions were more than 6 degrees Celsius higher than average. High temperatures in Siberia threaten to unlock methane deposits through melting permafrost, unleashing potentially runaway climate responses triggered by higher greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

While COVID-19 lockdowns resulted in lower carbon dioxide emissions, they were not enough to disrupt long-term trends, said Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

& # 39; This is no cause for complacency, & # 39; said Peuch. "Until net global emissions drop to zero, CO2 will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and drive further climate change."

Top photo: A firefighter monitors a controlled burn while fighting the Dolan Fire near Jolon, California, on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.

Copyright 2021 Bloomberg.

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