According to NOAA, the years 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2010, 2005 (tied) and 1998 are the hottest 10 years on record. And it’s been a remarkably steamy, record-setting last three months for our planet.
According to a NOAA report released September 14, the Northern Hemisphere had its warmest summer on record in 2020, surpassing both 2019 and 2016, which were previously tied for hottest. The months of June, July and August were 2.11 degrees F (1.17 degrees C) above the 20th-century average.
The Southern Hemisphere, which experiences winter when the Northern Hemisphere has its summer, had its third-warmest season yet. The globe as a whole had its third-hottest three-month season in the 141-year record as well.
In addition, August 2020 was the second-warmest August on record. The U.S. endured heat waves, hurricanes, a devastating derecho and raging wildfires out West. On August 16, Death Valley in California reported a high temperature of 130 degrees F (54 C). If verified, this temperature would be the hottest August temperature on record for the U.S.
More notable climate stats and facts from the NOAA report:
Arctic sea ice continued declining: The average Arctic sea ice extent (coverage) in August was the third smallest on record, 29.4% below the 1981-2010 average, according to analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Antarctic sea ice extent was close to normal, and had its highest coverage since 2016.
A few continents baked: North America as a whole had its hottest August on record (the Caribbean region saw its third-hottest), beating the previous record set in 2011 by 0.23 of a degree F (0.13 of a degree C). Elsewhere, Europe had its third hottest August, and South America and Oceania had their fourth hottest August.
2020 has been a real boiler of a year, so far: Europe, Asia and the Caribbean region had their hottest January-August period on record. South America’s year-to-date average temperature ranked as second-hottest ever recorded.
Bottom line: In 2020, the Northern Hemisphere had its warmest summer on record and the globe as a whole had its third-hottest 3-month season, too.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.