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2021 was 6th hottest year on record, NOAA says

The past four decades have gradually warmed up, scientists say.

Last year was one of the warmest in recorded history amid a four-decade warming trend, scientists have learned.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA announced Thursday at a joint press conference that 2021 is the 6th hottest year in history, but pointed out that it is global warming, not the ranking of each year, which validates the continuing warming on Earth.

Many independent scientific groups, some with different methodologies, have found similar results of a trend of gradual warming year after year over the past four decades, Russell Vose, NOAA’s chief climate watchdog, told reporters. , during the joint press conference with NASA.

While La Nina in the eastern Pacific cooled global temperatures slightly in 2021, the greatest warming has occurred in the northern hemisphere, both on land and in the Arctic, Vose said.

Climate change is at least partially responsible for some of the extreme weather events that occurred in 2021, the two agencies concluded. More heat in the ocean and the atmosphere will lead to more extreme events, like heat waves and intense precipitation.

The high heat content of the oceans was also a noticeable concern, as ocean water soaks up more than 90% of the excess heat content, according to NOAA. Warming oceans are a major concern in climate change because of its effects on geographic shifts in ecosystems, sea level rise and the feeding of extreme storms, experts told ABC News.

The average global temperature is likely to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the conservative measure of the Paris Agreement, by the 2030s or 2040s, the two agencies said. If emissions continue as usual, climate change is expected to quadruple the exposure of U.S. outdoor workers to hazardous heat conditions by 2065, putting their health at risk and risking a loss of $ 55.4 billion. dollars in income per year, according to a new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists released Thursday.

The release of the data is terrifying because it is “no longer surprising or shocking,” Kristina Dahl, senior climatologist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement.

“Rising temperatures are already causing disastrous impacts around the world and will only get worse as the planet warms,” Dahl said. “Scientific research shows that the deadly heat wave of 2021 in the Pacific Northwest, for example, would have been virtually impossible without climate change.”

Temperatures will continue to rise unless drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are made, said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “Every little bit counts” in the race to cut emissions, Schmidt said, adding that it was not too late to start.

Dahl called on policymakers to “take decisive action and adopt policies that severely limit heat trapping emissions, such as the Build Back Better Act.”

“Failure to act in concert with the global community will almost lead to more devastating impacts and even irreversible climate tipping points,” Dahl said. “In 2022, we need bold leaders who put the well-being of people and the planet first, not the incrementalism or regression of those who are beholden to the fossil fuel industry.”

ABC News’s Tracy Wholf contributed to this report.

ABC News

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