State of the Climate in 2020: a comprehensive new status report was recently released.

Paul Beckwith – Sep 16, 2021

The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) publishes a yearly update on the status of our climate in the previous calendar year. A few weeks ago this comprehensive report, titled “State of the Climate in 2020”, was released online (no paywall). This 458 page report, published online August 25th/2021 had 530 authors from 66 countries.

In this video I chat about some of the most significant weather and climate events of last year that are within the report.

For example:

  • — CO2 averaged 412.5 ppm, representing a gain over 2019 of 2.5 ppm, in spite of human caused global emissions being 6-7% lower due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • — ocean uptake of carbon was about 3 PgC, the highest in the 39 year record (30% higher than the 1999-2019 average). Why?
  • — Annual global surface temperature (land+oceans) was in the top 3 highest, in spite of a weak El Niño changing to a moderate La Niña
  • — Europe baked (17 countries had record high annual mean temperatures), as did many other countries
  • — In the USA’s Death Valley, a place called Furnace Creek was a record 54.4 C (hottest temperature on Earth since 1931)
  • — The Arctic N of 60 degrees latitude had an annual mean temperature 2.1 C above the 1981-2010 average
  • — On June 20th Verkhuyonsk, Russia at latitude 67.6 degrees N was 38 C
  • — Antarctica was hit by an atmospheric river of heat and moisture, and on Feb 6th Esperanza Station was 18.3 C (highest ever Antarctica temperature) and the Antarctica Peninsula had the largest late summer surface melt event (over 50% of peninsula) in the 43 year record
  • — Arctic sea ice at mid-March maximum had 76% first-year ice, while thick ice (4+ years old) comprised only 2% of the ice total; the mid-September minimum was the second smallest behind 2012; the northern sea route (off Russia) was open 2.5 months (late-July to mid-October); 1.5 months longer than usual
  • — Glaciers lost mass for 33rd year
  • — Permafrost experienced record high temperatures at many high-latitude and mountain locations
  • — Northern Hemisphere lakes froze 3 days later and thawed 5.5 days earlier (Finland lake ice duration was shorter 42 days)
  • — Snow cover melt in Siberia resulted in the lowest June snow cover in the 54 year record
  • — wildfires took off in the western USA, in the Arctic, and in the tropics (Amazon had most fire since 2012)
  • — The 2020 SW Asian monsoon was the wettest since 1981
  • — Many places around the globe experienced record flooding; for example in China the Yangtze and Huaihe River Valleys had the most rainfall since the start of the records in 1961 (45.5 million people affected)
  • — Heavy rains and favourable winds generated widespread locust infestations that swarmed across East Africa destroying 1000s km2 of crop and pasture land (1 million people needed food aid in Ethiopia alone)
  • — ocean heat content hit a record high, 84% of the ocean surface had at least one Marine Heat Wave (MHW); Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) hit a record high rate for 9th consecutive year
  • — Greenland had 293 Gtons of ice melt
  • — Lower tropospheric temperatures were record high (tied with 2016); stratospheric temperatures continued to decline
  • — Stratospheric Winter Polar Vortices were strong at both poles, resulting in low ozone levels

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