KEY POINTS

  • The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found the extent to which ice covers the Arctic region for September was the second-smallest for that mon
  • NOAA’s global climate report for September also found the average global land and ocean surface temperatures were the highest since the agency started keeping records in 1880.
  • NOAA found both Australia and Bahrain had one of their warmest months on record in September.

The extent of ice coverage over the Arctic in September was near a record low, while average global temperatures posted new highs, according to U.S. climate scientists.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found the extent to which ice covers the Arctic region for September was the second-smallest for that month, at 961,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average. All 14 of the lowest levels of ice coverage occurred during the last 14 years, NOAA data show.

NOAA’s global climate report for September also found the average global land and ocean surface temperatures were the highest since the agency started keeping records in 1880. NOAA scientists found average global temperatures were 1.75 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average of 59.0 for all of the 20th century.

“The month of September 2020 marked the 44th consecutive September and the 429th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average,” the report read. “The 10 warmest Septembers have occurred since 2005, while the seven warmest Septembers have occurred in the last seven years.”

Climate change has skewed precipitation levels across the globe, leaving places like California drier and more prone to fires. A separate report from NOAA notes that sea ice deflects solar energy, so the less ice there is, the warmer it gets.

NOAA found both Australia and Bahrain had one of their warmest months on record in September. In the United States, there are suggestions the devastating wildfire season in California and a busy Atlantic hurricane season are signs that climate change is indeed a growing threat.

With some 4 million acres scorched in the West Coast, about twice the usual level, Scott McLean, a spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told the Associated Press that this year’s fire season “boggles the mind.”

By comparison, the Atlantic hurricane season during the 1970s left 10,830 people dead and caused an estimated $9.3 billion in damage. The hurricane season in the 2010s, meanwhile, left half as many dead but caused $474 billion in damage.

Jason West from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill told the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences that without a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which derive in part from the burning of fossil fuels, extreme weather events and heightened air pollution will only increase.