Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

State of the Climate Report Confirms 2020 Was Among Three Warmest Years on Record

Several CIRES, NOAA authors contributed to BAMS annual publication


A new report on the global climate confirmed that 2020 was among the three warmest years in records dating to the mid-1800s, despite a cooling La Niña influence in the second half of the year. New high temperature records were set across the globe, and the report found that the major indicators of climate change continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet. Several markers such as sea level, ocean heat content and permafrost once again broke records set just one year prior. Notably, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere also reached record highs in 2020, even with an estimated 6–7 percent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions due to the economic slowdown from the global pandemic.

These key findings and others are available from the State of the Climate in 2020 report released online today by the American Meteorological Society.

The 31st annual issuance of the report, led by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), is based on contributions from more than 530 scientists from more than 60 countries and reflects tens of thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets. Authors include over a dozen CIRES researchers from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, NOAA’s Global Monitoring, Chemical Sciences, and Physical Sciences  Laboratories, and CU Boulder’s Earth Science Observation Center. The report provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice and in space.

The report’s climate indicators reveal patterns, changes and trends in the global climate system. Examples of the indicators include several greenhouse gases; temperatures throughout the atmosphere, ocean and land; cloud cover; sea level; ocean salinity; sea ice extent and snow cover.

This story was modified from NOAA NCEI Communications’ press release. Continue reading here.


CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and CU Boulder.