Past eight years are Earth’s warmest since data capture began

2021 was the joint-sixth hottest year on record, tied with 2018, and the planet has consistently reached new highs since 2014. 

Research by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has confirmed that Earth’s long-standing warming trend is continuing, with last year seeing temperatures around 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than the late-19th Century. 

Collectively, the past eight years have proven to be the warmest since records began in 1880, with human activity including greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the climb. The result being a decline in Arctic sea ice levels, more widespread and ferocious wildfires, and shifting patterns of animal migration. 

silhouette of trees during sunset

‘Science leaves no room for doubt: Climate change is the existential threat of our time,’ said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. ‘Eight of the top 10 warmest years on our planet occurred in the last decade, an indisputable fact that underscores the need for bold action to safeguard the future of our country – and all of humanity. NASA’s scientific research about how Earth is changing and getting warmer will guide communities throughout the world, helping humanity confront climate and mitigate its devastating effects.’

The worrying picture comes from a range of data sources across the world, including weather stations, ships, and ocean buoys. Each records ground-based temperatures, which are then validated with satellite readings from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), located on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Algorithms then address uncertainties in this information, with readings then compared to the global mean temperature baseline period, which runs from 1951 to 1980. 

‘The complexity of the various analyses doesn’t matter because the signals are so strong,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of GISS, NASA’s centre for climate modelling and climate change research. “The trends are all the same because the trends are so large.’

Last summer saw Italy record what is believed to be Europe’s hottest ever temperature – 48.8 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, researchers at Monash University have warned ‘abnormal temperatures’ are now responsible for 5million deaths each year. 

Image credit: Matt Palmer


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