It’s easy to forget how unusually hot parts of the country got over the summer- we’re looking at you, Pacific Northwest- now that it’s January and temperatures have been dropping into the teens overnight. But 2021 is the fifth warmest year ever recorded, and the past seven years have all been record-breakers when it comes to heat.
“2021 was yet another year of extreme temperatures with the hottest summer in Europe, heatwaves in the Mediterranean, not to mention the unprecedented high temperatures in North America,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, which just published their latest analysis. “These events are a stark reminder of the need to change our ways, take decisive and effective steps toward a sustainable society and work towards reducing net carbon emissions.”
Concentrations of carbon dioxide hit 414 parts per million in 2021, while concentrations of methane, a more potent but shorter-lived heat-trapping gas, reached 1876 parts per billion, the highest levels ever recorded, according to a preliminary analysis of satellite data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service and Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. Wildfires, particularly those in Siberia, were a significant source of carbon pollution.
“Carbon dioxide and methane concentrations are continuing to increase year on year and without signs of slowing down,” said Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. “These greenhouse gases are the main drivers of climate change.”
In the United States, emissions from energy use and industry grew 6.2 percent last year after falling more than 10 percent in 2020, according to a preliminary estimate from the Rhodium Group.