BECKLEY, WV (WVNS-TV) — With 2020 is coming to an end, we’re preparing to start a new year in the next few days. While there may not be as much fanfare this time around, 2021 does come with its own set of excitement, at least in the weather world.
When the ball drops this year, meteorologists and climatologists alike will be celebrating a new set of climatological averages being released. Currently our averages for highs, lows, and precipitation are based off of the 30 year period from 1981 to 2010. Once the new data set is certified as correct, we’ll start basing these parameters on temperatures and precipitation observed from 1991 to 2020. Every 10 years, we go through this change over in order provide a snapshot of our climate and how the world changed.
We haven’t made the official switch from the old to new data set just yet. That hasn’t stopped the conversation form starting online between meteorologists, climatologists and other environmental scientists on how different the world is since the last time we evaluated our averages.
Brian Brettschneider is a climatologist based in Alaska — an area of the world that as climate change continues to occur, they’ll feel the most drastic impacts, such as a loss of permanent sea ice and perma-frost. The map he shared at the beginning of December paints a dire picture for the entire planet — not just the arctic, as we head into the new period of climate normal. Most stations around the world are warmer than average, with only a select few stations mainly focused in south-central Canada and in the north-central United States that are cooler this time around.
These results aren’t very surprising, either. In the last 15 years, the 10 hottest years on record for the planet happened. In the last decade (2011-2020), since our most recent climate normal period was established, seven of those hottest years occurred.
We’ve heard plenty of bad news throughout all of 2020. Unfortunately, 2021 isn’t coming in strong because of the negative news about our planet. With the United States set to re-enter the Paris Agreement under President-Elect Joe Biden, a step in the right direction both at home and globally might be in the cards as we start 2021.