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Environment & Energy Report

Last Year Tied 2016 as the Hottest Year in Recorded History

Jan. 14, 2021, 4:00 PM

The decade ending in 2020 was the hottest in recorded history, with temperatures higher than any other period in at least two millennia and possibly much longer. The main culprit behind the extreme warming, atmospheric carbon dioxide, has reached a level not seen in at least 3 million years. The last seven years are now the warmest since measurement began in the 19th century.

In five major temperature datasets updated on Thursday, 2020 finished in a statistical tie with 2016 as the hottest year on record, coming in about 1.2° Celsius hotter than the 19th century. Four of the five research centers showed 2020 slightly cooler...

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