The finding, by European researchers, fits a clear warming trend: The seven hottest years on record have been the past seven.

Wildfires near Lytton, British Columbia, in July. The temperature in the town hit 121 degrees Fahrenheit in June, a Canadian record.
Wildfires near Lytton, British Columbia, in July. The temperature in the town hit 121 degrees Fahrenheit in June, a Canadian record.Credit…Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

By Raymond Zhong

Jan. 10, 2022

Last year was Earth’s fifth hottest on record, European scientists announced on Monday. But the fact that the worldwide average temperature didn’t beat the record is hardly reason to stop worrying about global warming’s grip on the planet, they said.

Not when both the United States and Europe had their warmest summers on the books. Not when higher temperatures around the Arctic caused it to rain for the first time at the Greenland ice sheet’s normally frigid summit.

And certainly not when the seven hottest years ever recorded were, by a clear margin, the past seven.

The events of 2021 “are a stark reminder of the need to change our ways, take decisive and effective steps toward a sustainable society and work toward reducing net carbon emissions,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, the European Union program that conducted the analysis made public on Monday. U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Bounced Back Sharply in 2021

The mean temperature globally last year was 1.1 to 1.2 degrees Celsius (2 to 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than it was before industrialization led humans to begin pumping large quantities of carbon dioxide into the air.

The year was fifth warmest by a slight margin over 2015 and 2018, by Copernicus’s ranking. The hottest years on record are 2016 and 2020, in a virtual tie.Wildfire Tracker  The latest updates on fires and danger zones in the West, delivered twice a week. Get it sent to your inbox.

“If you look at all the last seven years, they’re not super close, but they’re quite close together,” said Freja Vamborg, a senior climate scientist at Copernicus. “And they stand well off from the ones that came before that.”

Copernicus’s temperature records start in 1950, but in its analyses, the group combines these with other records that go back about another century.

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