The past seven years have been Earth's hottest on record and there's no signs of 'slowing down'
- 2021 was the planet's fifth-warmest year on record.
- Carbon dioxide and methane concentrations are continuing to increase year on year.
- Europe sweltered through its hottest summer ever recorded.
The past seven years were Earth's warmest on record "by a clear margin," according to new research released this week by the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a group affiliated with the European Union.
Specifically, 2021 was the planet's fifth-warmest year on record, the group said. The two warmest years, according to the Copernicus group, were 2020 and 2016.
And despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane – the main drivers of global warming – continued to increase in 2021.
"Carbon dioxide and methane concentrations are continuing to increase year on year and without signs of slowing down," Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, said in a statement. "Only with determined efforts backed up by observational evidence can we make a real difference in our fight against the climate catastrophe."
Europe sweltered through its hottest summer ever recorded in 2021 and set an all-time temperature record in Sicily of nearly 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The scorching heat also contributed to "intense" wildfires in countries such as Italy, Greece and Turkey, the Copernicus scientists said.
Horrific disasters such as floods in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium – which killed more than 200 people last summer – also can be linked to human-caused climate change, scientists said.
2021 A DEADLY YEAR FOR WEATHER:20 disasters killed more than 600 Americans
The western U.S. and Canada also dealt with an extraordinary heat wave in 2021. Hundreds of people in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia died from the extreme heat in the summer of 2021, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
The heat and dryness also contributed to catastrophic wildfires across the western U.S. in 2021.
Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said in a statement that "2021 was yet another year of extreme temperatures with the hottest summer in Europe, heat waves in the Mediterranean, not to mention the unprecedented high temperatures in North America. The last seven years have been the seven warmest on record.
"These events 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."
Additional data about climate conditions in 2021 is set to be released this week from NOAA, NASA, and the United Kingdom's Met Office.