New data published by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service on Monday shows that the last seven years were the warmest on record for the planet.
The analysis, which reviewed global temperatures and other contributing factors, determined that 2021 was the fifth-hottest year for the planet since its temperatures have been recorded.
Although the analysis clearly indicates that temperatures are following an upward trend, scientists note that it is important to consider weather events that lead to drops in temperature, like El Niño and La Niña.
“The really important thing is to not get hung up on the ranking of one particular year but rather kind of see the bigger picture of ever-warming temperatures, and that ever-warming doesn’t mean every year will be warmer than the next,” said Freja Vamborg, senior scientist at Copernicus. “But that was what we’ve seen so far with every decade warmer than the next — and this is quite likely to continue.”
According to Copernicus’ report, the planet’s average temperature is roughly 1.1 degrees Celsius over the average pre-industrial levels, which is just .4 degrees below the 1.5-degree threshold that scientists believe will cause irreversible damage.
“We’ve just barely crossed the 1-degree threshold for warming, and yet we are reeling from a near-constant series of weather and climate extremes,” Kim Cobb, director of the Global Change Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, told CNN. “With rare exceptions, these extremes can now be definitively linked to human-caused warming. Going forward, we should expect the frequency and severity of such extremes to increase, exacting an enormous toll on societies around the world.”
Greenland’s historic rainfall is a dire harbinger of climate change
The Earth’s rising temperature is apparent in extreme weather events across the world, as well as in the normalization of strange weather patterns in colder climates.
The National Snow & Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder estimates that 7 billion tons of rainfall took place on Greenland’s ice sheet. This is the third time in less than a decade that temperatures have reached above freezing in the area. The rain was observed by the Summit Station, a research center established by the National Science Foundation that monitors the ice sheet year-round.
This cluster of high temperatures and rainfall has severely worsened the ice sheets melt-off, said NSIDC researchers in a statement: “Warm conditions and the late-season timing of the three-day melt event coupled with the rainfall led to both high melting and high runoff volumes to the ocean.”
The weather event was triggered by a patch of low air pressure that crept over Baffin Island, a Canadian Island slightly south of Greenland. The ridge of high pressure moved onwards to Greenland and pushed warm air and moisture up to the ice sheet.
Melting caused by the rainfall was immediate, impacting 337,000 miles of ice, the NSIDC said. The ice sheet had stabilized by Monday, but the loss builds on an already dire climate catastrophe. Some climate scientists have speculated that the ice sheets will be entirely melted by 2050 if melting continues at the rate it has for the past decade.