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"Incredible": US scientists confirm 2023 as the hottest year on record worldwide.
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“Incredible”: US scientists confirm 2023 as the hottest year on record worldwide.

Scientists from the United States have verified that last year was the hottest on record worldwide, by a significant margin. This has raised concerns among researchers as they try to understand the intensity of the heat and what it may indicate for the ongoing climate crisis.

Last year was the world’s hottest in records that stretch back to 1850, according to analyses released concurrently by Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) on Friday, with a record high in ocean temperatures and a new low in Antarctic sea ice extent.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determined that the average global temperature last year was 1.35 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than during the pre-industrial period. This is slightly lower than the 1.48 degrees Celsius (2.6 degrees Fahrenheit) increase reported by European Union scientists, who also identified 2023 as the hottest year on record. The discrepancy in numbers can be attributed to variations in their research methods.

On Friday, Berkeley Earth released a separate report analyzing data from 2023. According to the report, the year’s temperature was 1.54C higher than pre-industrial levels, exceeding the agreed-upon limit of 1.5C (2.7F) set by countries to prevent severe impacts of global heating. It is important to note that this limit must be consistently exceeded, rather than just one year, in order for it to be considered fully breached.

The excessive heat experienced in recent years can be attributed to the use of fossil fuels and deforestation. According to Noaa, each decade in the last 40 years has been warmer than the previous one, with the past 10 years being the hottest on record. El Niño, a cyclic weather phenomenon that warms up areas of the Pacific Ocean, also contributed to the record-breaking temperatures seen last year.

Despite being aware of these established variables, researchers were still astonished by the intensity of 2023. Initially, it appeared to follow the predicted long-term trend of warming, but the second half of the year saw a string of unprecedented record-breaking events. According to Noaa, last year’s global temperature surpassed the previous record set in 2016 by 0.15C (0.27F), a significant difference in terms of climate.

Gavin Schmidt, the director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, stated that the data for 2023 has exceeded all expectations.

“We are struggling to understand the reason for the unusually warm temperatures in 2023. The events of last year were unprecedented and cause for concern. This is the first time in my experience that I am not confident in my ability to explain the situation.”

Sarah Kapnick, the chief scientist at Noaa, expressed amazement at the results of the 2023 climate analysis.

According to Schmidt, additional investigation and the results of future years will need to be evaluated in order to determine if there are other significant factors involved, but the lack of certainty is concerning. “I am unsettled by the findings beyond simply another year of warm temperatures,” he stated.

The speaker stated that there is a 50% probability of 2024 being the hottest year on record, due to a strong El Niño event. They also mentioned that the chances of limiting global warming to 1.5C, which is crucial in preventing severe heatwaves, floods, droughts, and other disasters, have significantly decreased.

According to Schmidt, we are leaving a significant geological impact on the planet, possibly on par with the effects of cyanobacteria. This is a significant accomplishment, as the main cause of climate change is the release of greenhouse gases from human activities. It is crucial to recognize that our actions are responsible for long-term trends in the Earth’s climate.

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It is anticipated that the 1.5C limit will be reached in the next ten years, and some experts believe this is already underway. Scientists are cautious due to the unexpected events of the previous year. Robert Rohde, head researcher at Berkeley Earth, stated, “The year 2023 is a significant deviation from our predictions, but it is uncertain if it is an anomaly or a sign of unforeseen alterations.”

The breaking of last year’s record for annual temperatures has led to increased demands for more action to combat the climate crisis. Despite governments agreeing to move away from fossil fuels at the United Nations climate talks in Dubai in December, there has been little progress in actually making this transition on the necessary scale. In fact, emissions that contribute to global warming hit an all-time high last year and there are still major plans for oil and gas drilling projects that will only worsen the situation.

In 2023, the impact of climate-related disasters was strongly evident, according to Noaa. This included devastating wildfires in Hawaii and destructive flooding in Libya. The United States experienced a high number of extreme weather events, breaking records for the amount of damage they caused, with each costing at least $1 billion.

“The actions of humanity are causing severe damage to the planet,” stated António Guterres, the United Nations’ secretary general. “The year 2023 served as a glimpse into the devastating future that lies ahead if we fail to take action immediately. We must respond to unprecedented increases in temperature with innovative measures.”

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) of the UN announced on Friday that their temperature data supports the conclusion that last year was the warmest on record, exceeding pre-industrial levels by 1.45C.

Celeste Saulo, the secretary general of the WMO, stated that we cannot delay any further. Although we are currently taking measures, we must intensify our efforts and do so promptly. This requires significant decreases in greenhouse gas emissions and expediting the shift to renewable energy sources.

Source: theguardian.com