Next year is already set to be among the hottest on record, even as the planet experiences the temporary cooling effect of La Nina phenomenon.
Average global temperatures for 2021 are forecast to be between 0.91 and 1.15 degrees Celsius higher than the average for the pre-industrial period, according to the U.K.’s Met Office. The six warmest years on record have all occurred since 2015.
“The global temperature for 2021 is unlikely to be a record year due to the influence of the current La Nina,” said Adam Scaife, head of long range prediction at the Met Office. “But it will be far warmer than other past La Nina years such as 2011 and 2000 due to global warming.”
La Nina occurs when the surface of the Pacific Ocean cools. That change triggers an atmospheric chain reaction that cools the planet, and also roils weather around the world. During those years, fires in the western U.S turn worse, hurricanes in the Atlantic are more powerful and it exacerbates flooding in parts of Australia and South America.
La Nina, which is the opposing side of El Nino, formed in September and is expected to last in 2021, according to the World Meteorological Organization, which classified this event as moderate to strong.
This year will end as one of the three warmest on record and temperatures from January to October were around 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to the WMO. The global community is making efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit warming to below 2 degrees and ideally close to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century, which scientists consider the best-case scenario given current warming trends.