Global Risks

2020 is predicted to be the hottest year on record, according to NASA

A man takes a shower during the second heat wave of the summer on Sacaba beach in Malaga, southern Spain, July 5, 2015. As Germany and Spain sweated and London sweltered through its hottest July day on record this week, scientists said it is "virtually certain" that climate change is increasing the likelihood of such heat waves in Europe. Temperatures will rise up to 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 fahrenheit) in some parts of Spain and will continue during a week, the Spanish Agency of Meteorology (AEMET) said on Thursday. REUTERS/Jon Nazca - GF10000149506

Data from NASA shows the Earth has gradually gotten hotter since the late 19th century. Image: REUTERS/Jon Nazca

Katharina Buchholz
Data Journalist, Statista
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Global Risks?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Global Risks is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Global Risks

  • The Earth has been heating up since the 19th century, according to data from NASA.
  • Since the year 2000, this trend seems to have accelerated.
  • 2020 is predicted to be the hottest year on record.
  • This spike in temperature could have catastrophic consequences for the planet.

Data from NASA shows the Earth gradually heating up since the late 19th century. Since the year 2000, this trend seems to have accelerated as shown in the visualization of the data released. May 2020 was about 1.5° C hotter than the average month recorded on Earth since 1880.

As seen by the monthly temperatures of selected years since 1880, winter temperature is naturally below the multiyear mean of the reference period, which is a single figure showing the monthly mean temperature over a long period of time irrespective of seasons. Summer temperatures are naturally above the base period multiyear mean but have been diverging further and further from it.

As confirmed by NASA and NOAA, the months from February to April 2020 were the second-warmest of their kind ever recorded, while January and May 2020 about tied with their 2016 counterparts (also the year when the hottest ever February, March and April occurred).

Have you read?

Scientists at NOAA are already projecting that 2020 will end up being the hottest year ever recorded. As of now, 2016 exceeded the Earth's mean temperature most (calculated for the years from 1980 to 2015 and used as a reference period for the chart).

2019, the current runner-up, was also really scorching and is - as of now - the second-hottest year ever recorded. As it stands, July 2019 was the warmest month ever recorded on Earth.

The global data for near-surface temperatures comes from onshore weather stations as well as from ship, buoys and satellite measurements of the oceans. According to scientific findings, the continuing global warming will lead to changes in the strength, frequency, spatial extent and duration of extreme weather events.

NASA Climate change rising temperature
The rise is temperature over the last 60 years Image: Statista
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Global RisksHealth and Healthcare SystemsClimate Action
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Global financial stability at risk due to cyber threats, IMF warns. Here's what to know

Spencer Feingold and Johnny Wood

May 15, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum