2020 Was Tied For The Hottest Year Ever Recorded

by : Emily Brown on : 08 Jan 2021 10:48
2020 Was Tied For The Hottest Year Ever RecordedPA Images

The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service has determined that 2020 was tied with 2016 for being the hottest year ever recorded. 

New data analysis released by the organisation today, January 8, revealed that last year’s global average temperatures were 0.6°C warmer than the 1981 to 2010 average, and 1.25°C above the pre-industrial average.


The figures rounded off what was also the planet’s hottest decade ever recorded, with the last six years being the hottest six on record.

News: WildfiresPA Images

The Copernicus Climate Change Service is one of several datasets which tracks global temperatures and climate change impacts, and while 2020 tied with 2016 for its temperatures, it is clear the impacts of global warming continue to become more extreme.

Commenting on the findings in a press release, Carlo Buontempo, the director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said:


2020 stands out for its exceptional warmth in the Arctic and a record number of tropical storms in the North Atlantic.

It is no surprise that the last decade was the warmest on record, and is yet another reminder of the urgency of ambitious emissions reductions to prevent adverse climate impacts in the future.

Record-breaking temperatures in Australia led to unprecedented wildfires in January 2020, destroying more than 12.6 million hectares of land and as well as homes, lives and animal habitats.

Analysis cited by CNN explained that climate change made the fires at least 30% more likely, confirming scientists’ warnings that rising global temperatures will increase the risk for natural disasters such as wildfires, droughts, floods and food shortages.


Extreme weather conditions led to a record-breaking 30 named storms throughout the Atlantic hurricane season last year, 12 of which hit the United States. Meanwhile, the Western US recorded its worst wildfire season ever as roughly 10.3 million acres of land was burned in blazes.

The Arctic experienced some of the most extreme temperatures anywhere on Earth in 2020, with areas recording temperatures more than 3°C above average, and in some locations even 6°C above average, according to the Climate Change Service.

The fact that 2020 tied with 2016 is made more shocking due to the fact that last year featured La Niña, a naturally occurring climate cycle in which the Pacific Ocean records cooler than normal temperatures and consequently acts like a natural ‘air conditioner’ for the planet.

Polar bear on icePA Images

The opposite of this cycle of El Niño, when the Pacific rises to higher than normal temperatures and releases excess heat into the atmosphere. 2016 featured a strong El Niño in the first half of the year, likely contributing to its higher temperatures. However, in spite of the air conditioning effects of La Niña last year, there was still the same amount of global heat.

Seasonally, winter 2019-2020 and autumn 2020 were also the warmest on record, with winter exceeding 2016’s previous record by almost 1.4°C, while autumn surpassed 2006’s record by 0.4°C.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, Climate Change, Environment, Global Warming, Now


Copernicus Climate Change Service and 1 other
  1. Copernicus Climate Change Service

    Copernicus: 2020 warmest year on record for Europe; globally, 2020 ties with 2016 for warmest year recorded

  2. CNN

    2020 was tied for the hottest year ever recorded -- but the disasters fueled by climate change set it apart