Earth breaks global heat records in 2023

last year earth scattered global annual warming The records blow with the world's agreed warming limits and show more signs of a feverish planet, the European Climate Agency said Tuesday.

In one of several teams of science agencies calculating how warm 2023 will be, the European climate agency Copernicus said the year was 1.48 degrees Celsius (2.66 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrial times. That's barely below the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit within which the world was expected to avoid the most severe impacts of warming in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

And January 2024 is on track to be so warm that the 12-month period will exceed the 1.5-degree limit for the first time, said Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Copernicus. Scientists have repeatedly said that the Earth would need an average of 1.5 degrees of warming over two or three decades to technically breach the limit.

“The 1.5 degree target has to be survivable because lives are at risk and choices have to be made,” Burgess said. "And these choices don't impact you and me but they impact our children and our grandchildren."

record heat made life miserable and sometimes fatal Europe, North America, China and many other places last year. But scientists say The warming climate is also responsible for this For more extreme weather events, such as the prolonged drought that devastated the Horn of Africa, torrential rains that destroyed dams and killed thousands in Libya, and wildfires in Canada that fouled the air from North America to Europe. for the first time, Nations meet for annual UN climate talks In December it was agreed that the world needs to move away from fossil fuels that cause climate change, but they did not set any concrete requirements for doing so.

Copernicus calculated that the global average temperature for 2023 was about one-sixth of a degree Celsius (0.3 °F) higher than the old record set in 2016. Although that seems like a small amount in global record-keeping, it's an exceptionally big difference to the new record, Burgess said. According to Copernicus' calculations, Earth's average temperature for 2023 was 14.98 °C (58.96 °F).

“It was a record-breaking seven months. Burgess said, we had the hottest June, July, August, September, October, November, December. “It wasn't just one season or one month that was extraordinary. This was extraordinary for more than half the year.

There are many factors that made 2023 the hottest year on record, Burgess said, but by far the biggest factor was the ever-increasing amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that trap heat. Those gases come from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.

Other factors including the natural El Niño – a temporary warming of the central Pacific that changes weather around the world – other natural oscillations in the Arctic, Southern and Indian Oceans, increased solar activity and an undersea volcanic eruption in 2022 that released water into the atmosphere. Sent steam, Burgess said.

University of Melbourne climate scientist Malte Meinshausen said about 1.3 degrees Celsius of warming comes from greenhouse gases, another 0.1 degrees Celsius from El Niño and the rest from smaller causes.

Given El Nino and record ocean heat levels, Burgess said it is "highly likely" that 2024 will be even hotter than 2023.

Copernicus' records go back only to 1940 and are based on a combination of observations and forecast models. The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other groups including NASA, the United Kingdom's Meteorological Office and Berkeley Earth go back to the mid-1800s and released their calculations for 2023 on Friday with expectations of record-breaking numbers. Will announce.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency, which uses the same techniques as Copernicus and goes back to 1948, estimated late last month that it was the hottest year on record, 1.47 degrees Celsius (2.64 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. The University of Alabama Huntsville global dataset, which uses satellite measurements instead of ground data and dates back to 1979, also found last week to be the hottest year on record, but not by as much.

Although actual observations date back only less than two centuries, many scientists say evidence from tree rings and ice cores suggests this is the warmest Earth has been in more than 100,000 years.

"2023 was likely the hottest year on Earth in about 125,000 years," said Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center. “Humans were around long before that, but it's certainly fair to say this is the hottest we've been since humans became civilized, depending on the definition of 'civilized'. ,

The record warm months were punctuated by days that were absolutely unprecedentedly warm around the world.

For the first time, Copernicus recorded a day when the world's average temperature was at least 2 °C (3.6 °F) higher than in pre-industrial times. It happened twice, Burgess said, and had a narrow escape on the third day around Christmas.

And for the first time, every day of the year was at least one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than in pre-industrial times. For almost half the year – 173 days – the world was 1.5 degrees warmer than in the mid-1800s.

Meinshausen, the Australian climate scientist, said it was natural for the public to wonder whether the 1.5-degree target has been missed. He said it is important for people to keep trying to curb warming.

"We're not eliminating the speed limit because someone went over the speed limit," he said. "We double our efforts to step on the brakes."


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Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter @borenbears


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