PARIS (AFP) – Earth’s surface was warmer last month than during any September on record, with temperatures since January tracking those of the hottest ever calendar year in 2016, the European Union’s (EU) Earth Observation Programme said yesterday.
This year has now seen three months of record warmth – January, May and September – with June and April virtually tied for first, the Copernicus Climate Change Service reported.
“There is currently little difference between 2020 and 2016 for the year-to-date,” Copernicus senior scientist Freja Vambourg told AFP.
For the 12-month period through September, the planet was nearly 1.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
That is alarmingly close to the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold for severe impacts detailed in a major 2018 report by the United Nations’ (UN) climate science advisory panel, the IPCC.
The Paris Agreement has enjoined nations to cap global warming at “well below” two degrees Celsius, and 1.5 degrees Celsius if feasible.
So far, Earth has warmed on average by one degree, enough to boost the intensity of deadly heatwaves, droughts and tropical storms made more destructive by rising seas.
Climate change driven by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels has picked up pace in recent decades.
Nineteen of the last 20 years are the warmest since accurate readings began in the late 19th Century.