Global meteorological agencies agree 2020 was a scorching year but they are divided on just where it ranks in the temperature records.
Reports from five key global agencies all agree 2020 is in the top three.
For NASA, last year is in a statistical dead heat with 2016 as the warmest year.
Others, including the UK Met Office, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, believe it is second in the rankings dating back to the 19th Century.
The Japan Meteorological Agency has 2020 as the third warmest year.
But all the agencies agree the last 12 months are part of the warmest decade on record.
The differences between the datasets are all within the margin of error, says the World Meteorological Organization which has consolidated the information from the agencies.
Ongoing emissions of carbon dioxide from human activities are the key element in driving up temperatures, say researchers.