2020 ties for the warmest year on record, according to NASA


2020 was historic in more ways than one. NASA concluded that 2020 tied 2016 as the warmest year on record.

Last year was 1.84 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the mean from 1951 to 1980.

NOAA scientists, on the other hand, found that 2020 now ranks as the second-hottest year on record for Earth.

Average global land and ocean temperatures were 1.76 degrees above average. Compared to 2016, which is in their top spot, that’s only 0.04 of a degree cooler than 1st place.

Why the slight difference in rankings?

Both NASA and NOAA look at the same raw temperature data when conducting their analysis, but their baseline time periods are different.

Whether it is first or second in your book, the takeaway is the same. Temperatures are continuing to warm all across our planet.

Color blocks represent increasing warmth (NOAA NCEI)

Earth’s seven-warmest years have all been since 2014. Ten of the warmest have been since 2005. According to scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, 2020 is the 44th consecutive year with global land and ocean temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average.


For us in the Northern Hemisphere, we saw our hottest year on record. Our half of the world saw temperatures 2.30 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average.
The Southern Hemisphere saw their fifth warmest year on record for land and ocean surface temperatures.

(NOAA Climate.gov, using NOAA NCEI data)

But temperatures weren’t the only thing setting records. Last year had a total of 103 named storms globally, which ties the number of tropical cyclones set back in 2018. Ocean temperatures were the third highest on record for the globe. The only warmer years were 2016 and 2019.

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