2020 is drawing to an end. It is a year that will go down in history as having been shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic and the health, humanitarian and economic crisis that it caused. However, although the coronavirus has been the undisputed protagonist of these months, events related to climate change have also earned their place among the numerous bad news stories of the year. The plain fact is that 2020 has seen the breaking of climate records that should concern us all if we really want to live in a sustainable world.
The hottest summer in the northern hemisphere
1.17°C above average!According to data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the summer months in the northern hemisphere saw the breaking of all records, even surpassing the data recorded in 2016 and 2019.
California records its highest ever temperature
Be prepared for what you’re about to read, it’s hot news! The temperature in California reached 54.4°C on 16 August. This happened in none other than Death Valley, recording the world’s highest known temperature in at least the last 80 years.
However, many other places have also seen record temperatures
The Caribbean experienced major heat waves in April and September because of climate change. Temperatures reached 39.7°C in Veguitas in April, a national record for Cuba, while Havana also experienced its hottest day at 38.5°C.
Australia set heat records in early 2020, in western districts of Sydney, when Penrith reached 48.9°C in January.
In the eastern Mediterranean, all-time records were set in Jerusalem (42.7°C) and Eilat (48.9°C) in September. After a heat wave at the end of July , Kuwait reached 52.1°C and Baghdad 51.8°C.
The worst summer for Arctic ice
As a direct consequence of rising temperatures due to climate change, the ice-cap in the Arctic Ocean is experiencing its worst levels since reliable data have been recorded.
Through Earth Observatory, a specialised service for the study of the Earth’s surfaces, NASA presented a photo montage in August comparing images captured by satellites on the same dates in the summers of 2000, 2010 and 2020. Even for those who know little about climate, Arctic ice and space-based radars, the comparison leaves no doubt that the situation is worsening significantly and rapidly. The climate crisis is clear in the North Pole region.
Alarm in the Amazon
Deforestation in the Amazon has skyrocketed in the last year, reaching the highest level for the last 12 years. The world's largest rainforest, the key to curbing climate change, lost 11,088 square kilometres of trees, up 9.5 % compared to the previous year.
The United States saw its worst fires
In the United States, the largest fires ever recorded occurred in late summer and autumn. Widespread drought and extreme heat contributed to the fires, and the hottest and driest days ever were recorded from July to September in the South-West.
An increase in extreme weather events
The 2020 hurricane season left meteorologists astonished, becoming the most active since records first began to be kept in the mid-19th century. So much so that, with two months still left in the season, the previous list of 21 hurricane names had already been finished and the Greek alphabet had to be used.