Last seven years hottest on record 'by a clear margin', scientists say

10 January 2022, 17:24 | Updated: 10 January 2022, 17:39

The Dixie Fire was the second largest wildfire in California’s history
The Dixie Fire was the second largest wildfire in California’s history. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The last seven years have been the world's hottest on record "by a clear margin", scientists announced today.

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The European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service released a report saying 2021 was the fifth warmest year on record.

The average temperature was 1.1-1.2C above the pre-industrial level in the second half of the 1800s.

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There was record-breaking heat in Europe during the summer, while temperature records were also set in the US and Canada

Greenland, large parts of central and northern Africa and the Middle East also saw above average temperatures, the report said.

Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said: "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."

The amount of greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane - the main drivers of climate change - in the atmosphere also hit record levels.

Methane is of particular concern because it is more potent than carbon dioxide, with the report saying scientists do not yet understand why levels are so high.

Carbon emissions, fuelled particularly by wildfires in Siberia, grew year-on-year although levels have been declining overall in the last 20 years.

In Europe, heavy rainfall led to severe floods in several countries including Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

There was a heatwave across the Mediterranean during July, with soaring temperatures particularly affecting Greece, Spain and Italy.

Sicily broke the record for Europe's highest ever temperature, with 48.8C reported - 0.8C above the previous high.

The hot weather fuelled intense wildfires, with Turkey badly affected as well as Greece, Italy and north African countries Algeria and Tunisia.

Temperature records in western US and Canada were broken by several degrees during an exceptional heatwave in June.

This contributed to extreme wildfires throughout July and August, including the second largest fire recorded in California's history, the Dixie Fire.

Copernicus gets is data from a constellation of Sentinel satellites in the Earth's orbit and measurements taken at ground level.