The great global bake off: Last month becomes 'warmest September on record'

Katie Ramirez
October 10, 2020

May 2020 was also the hottest May on record, with temperatures in Siberia a full 10°C above average.

European Union scientists warned Wednesday that 2020 is on pace to overtake 2016 as the hottest year on record after last month was confirmed to be the warmest September ever, with the climate crisis driving temperatures to unprecedented highs, fueling devastating wildfires across the Western United States, and melting Arctic sea ice at an alarming rate.

This year is also projected to become the warmest on record for Europe, even if temperatures cool somewhat from now on.

The past five calendar years were the world's warmest on record.

In September 2020, the air temperature in the Antarctic was mostly above average, although the ice-covered Ross Sea and the region to the west of it saw below-average temperatures.

"As we go into an even warmer world, certain extremes are likely to happen more often and be more intense", said Vamborg. Meanwhile, the Middle East is racing to catch up. In Jordan, a rare September heatwave forced outdoor work to a halt and schools to close.

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On Sept. 6, Los Angeles County experienced its hottest temperature ever when the Woodland Hills neighborhood hit a whopping 121 degrees. Australia, not a novice when it comes to heat, did comparatively well: last month was only the second highest on record.

Speaking about the record-breaking warming of the planet, Carlo Buontempo, director of Copernicus Climate Change Service at ECMWF, said: "In 2020, there was an unusually rapid decline in Arctic sea ice extent during June and July, in the same region where above-average temperatures were recorded, preconditioning the sea ice minimum to be particularly low this year".

Either way, the trend lines are clear.

Under the landmark Paris climate agreement signed in 2015, countries agreed to attempt to cap warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 Fahrenheit), which scientists say would avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. "Some months it's warming more, and some months less, some years more, and some less".

Ed Hawkins, from Reading University, told us: "We have been saying this for decades - more and more greenhouse gases will lead to more and more warming". I'll bring you news about science, space, and health. Click the link to confirm your subscription and begin receiving our newsletters.

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