2020 has been a year of extreme weather on the planet. Dry and hot conditions drove record-setting wildfires through vast regions of Australia, California and Brazil, and Siberia. A record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season landed a double setback of 2 enormously damaging storms in Central America. Long-running droughts have ruined agricultural output and also helped to push countless thirst in Zimbabwe and Madagascar. A super-cyclone unleashed enormous flooding on India and Bangladesh.
Even though it’s been hard to state when sole weather events were directly brought on by climate change, scientists have demonstrated that lots of the events which happened in 2020 could have been much less inclined, or perhaps impossible, without changes to the climate which are being driven from the heating of the planet.
Due to growing amounts of heat-absorbing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, global average temperatures annually were 1.15°C within the pre-industrial era. Based on how fast we could reduce our emissions of those gases, the global average temperature increase is expected to be anywhere between 1.5°C and 5°C from 2100. While emissions dipped temporarily during the initial COVID-19 lockdowns, they’ve rebounded to near 2019 levels.
An increase of a couple of degrees might not seem like much, but it has enormous implications for the weather we will see in the next several years, says Daniel Swain, a scientist at UCLA focused on the connections between climate change and extreme weather. “it is a number that’s describing very profound and enormous changes in the climate system which we feel largely via individual weather events and during intense events.”
It is not possible to understand when 2021 will be record-breaking as 2020, however, more extremes are probably on the road. “From 1 year to another, there is still a great deal of random variation superimposed in addition to the long-term tendencies,” Swain says. “While 2020 might happen to be a particularly intense season compared to individual years previously, scientifically and looking forward, what is more, purposeful is that 2020 wasn’t actually an aberration.”
Here is what to expect from the weather season –and what’s very likely to occur with all the greenhouse gas emissions which are driving the changes.
Hurricanes and storms
Back in September, Hurricane Sally battered Florida and Alabama, cutting power to over half a million houses. Back in November, Hurricanes Eta and Iota struck Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and other Central American nations in near succession, submerging cities, destroying infrastructure and farmlands, and murdering dozens throughout the area.
Climate scientists are not certain if climate change will lead to a rise in the number of hurricanes normally. But climate change is impacting the characteristics of hurricanes and making them destructive. They’re very likely to be intense, carrying greater wind speeds and heavier rains, as stated by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
This season’s very active hurricane season has been in part driven by La Niña, the ocean-atmospheric occurrence, a counterpart to El Niño, which causes temporarily lower sea surface temperatures throughout the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean and atmospheric fluctuations, creating positive conditions such as hurricanes.
Early forecasts for its 2021 Atlantic hurricane year printed by meteorologists at Colorado State University indicate there’s a 6 in 10 chance that the year will be quite strong or above average.
High temperatures, wildfires, and droughts
Globally, 2020 is now tied to 2016 as the warmest year on record. Even though it takes next place, this really is notable given the incidence of La Niña this season, which will lower temperatures, and also the simple fact that 2016 has been an El Niño season, when temperatures are usually warmer.
There’s reason to think that 2021 could be marginally cooler, says Swain, because La Niña conditions are expected to last through to March. “It might be that a few of the cooling impact of the La Niña is going to be sensed a tiny bit more a year than this season. However, it will still be quite inclined to be one of the top five warmest years on record, since we simply are not actually seeing we simply are not really seeing some of those sorts of cooler years we watched 30 or 40 years back .”
2020 has been the 2nd most significant year for Arctic ice melting following 2012–that can be considered an outlier due to a damaging late-season cyclone. Worryingly, scientists state 2020’s sea ice melt followed a similar trajectory to 2012, with no such storm. And that was the very first year since records started that Arctic sea ice hadn’t begun to freeze by late October.
The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of Earth, using a 1-degree rise in the average annual temperature each decade for the past 40 decades. Because of this, scientists say we’re most likely to see progressively quicker melting and slower freezing every year. By 2035, research published this August in Nature Climate Change discovered, it’s very likely that the Arctic sea will likely be ice-free in the summertime.
When it has to do with the greenhouse gas emissions which are forcing the changes we’re seeing in our climate, 2020 has been an anomaly. International emissions of carbon dioxide, the most significant greenhouse gas, reached a new summit in 2019 — they had been only marginally above 2018 amounts, increasing hopes which emissions were sloughed off. However, this year they’re predicted to fall by around 7 percent as a consequence of the falls in action during the initial COVID-19 lockdowns in March and April.
Coincidentally, 7 percent is the amount by which the U.N. says we would want to lower carbon emissions each year for the next decade to stay consistent with the Paris Agreement, which intends to maintain global average temperatures by growing than 1.5°C within the pre-industrial era.