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Climate Change Made the Last Eight Years the Hottest on Record

Scientists have ranked 2021 as the fifth- or sixth-warmest year since 1880 

Residents wait to support firefighters outside on Evia island, Greece.

Residents wait to support firefighters outside on Evia island, Greece.

Photographer: Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Bloomberg

The last eight years were the hottest in global records that date to 1880, with 2021 ranking as the sixth-hottest year, according to analyses of global weather station and ocean measurements released Thursday by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Last year’s global average temperature was a bit more than 1° Celsius higher than the 1880-1900 average. 

Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit that looks at stations and ocean data, found last year to be virtually tied with 2015 and 2018 for the fifth-hottest year. NASA, NOAA and Berkeley Earth are three of the five major research groups that conduct temperature analyses. The EU Copernicus Climate Change Service, which published its results last week, evaluates satellites, surface records, weather balloons and other measurements and estimates the global figure from them. This analysis placed 2021 as the fifth-hottest year since 1979.