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Reproduced from NOAA; Chart: Axios Visuals

2020 is certain to be among the warmest years in modern temperature records that date back to the late 1800s, and stands a very good chance of beating 2016 to top the list, per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Why it matters: The recent estimate (which I learned about in this Washington Post piece by former Axios colleague Andrew Freedman) shows the ongoing march of global warming, even as policymakers are consumed with responding to COVID-19.

What they found: "Based on current anomalies and historical global annual temperature readings, it appears that it is virtually certain that 2020 will be a top-10 year," said NOAA, which also released this comparison to other years.

  • They see a nearly 75% chance that it will be the warmest on record, and a nearly 100% chance of a top-5 ranking.

The intrigue: "This is somewhat unexpected, since there is no declared El Niño event in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which tends to provide a natural boost to global temperatures that are already elevated due to the human-caused buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," Freedman writes of the 75% chance.

Go deeper: Why climate change is the easiest news to fake

Go deeper

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

1 hour ago - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to form team to solve consulate dispute

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) meet in Washington. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel are planning to form a joint team to hold discreet negotiations on the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: The consulate handled relations with the Palestinians for 25 years before being shut down by then President Donald Trump in 2019. Senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government see the consulate issue as a political hot potato that could destabilize their unwieldy coalition.