Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

Scientists divided over whether record heat is acceleration of climate crisis
Climate World News

Scientists divided over whether record heat is acceleration of climate crisis

Scientists are concerned about the temperature readings in 2024, both on land and at sea, and are questioning if they match expected patterns of global warming or if they indicate a worrisome escalation of climate change.

The temperature above the oceans remains consistently and abnormally elevated, even as El Niño weakens. This phenomenon has been a key contributor to the record-breaking global temperatures seen in the last year.

Experts hold differing opinions on the unusually high temperatures of oceanic air. Some argue that these patterns align with predictions made by climate models regarding the impact of human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. However, others are concerned and puzzled by the rapid pace of this shift, as the oceans play a crucial role in regulating the Earth’s temperature and are currently absorbing over 90% of the human-induced warming.

In the beginning of this month, the World Meteorological Organization stated that El Niño, a natural climate occurrence linked to the heating of the Pacific Ocean, has reached its peak. There is an 80% likelihood that it will diminish entirely between April and June, although its secondary impacts will persist.

The warming trend of 2023 has been heavily influenced by El Niño, according to WMO secretary general Celeste Saulo. However, the primary factor responsible for this temperature increase is the release of emissions from fossil fuels.

She expressed concern about the state of our oceans, stating that the January 2024 sea surface temperature was the highest ever recorded. This cannot be attributed solely to El Niño and is deeply troubling.

The Copernicus satellite monitoring programme in Europe reported that sea surface temperatures in February were higher than any other month on record, surpassing the previous record set in August.

Across the globe, there was an extraordinary level of warmth over both land and ocean. From February 8 to 11, the temperature anomaly was greater than 2 degrees Celsius compared to the average from 1850 to 1900. Europe, in particular, recorded a temperature rise of 3.3 degrees Celsius above the long-term average for the entire month.

According to Carlo Buontempo, the head of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, the recent experience is just a glimpse of what we can expect due to the rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. He warns that unless we are able to control these levels, we will inevitably see even higher global temperatures and the resulting impacts.

It is becoming more common for heat records to be broken, but there is particular concern over the unusual warmth in the oceans.

Carlos Nobre, one of Brazil’s most influential climatologists, said no climate model accurately predicted how high sea surface temperatures would reach during the past 12 months. Given the continued heat over the sea, he said 2024 was likely to be another unusually hot year for the world as a whole.

At the University of Miami, climatologist Brian McNoldy determined that in the North Atlantic, the deviation from typical statistical patterns is strongest and has a probability of occurring once every 284,000 years. On Twitter, he noted that the region has experienced consistently high temperatures, breaking records by significant margins. He expressed his concern about the disturbing trends.

Zeke Hausfather, a researcher at Berkeley Earth in the United States, stated that worldwide ocean and atmospheric temperatures are at a significant level, but they are still within the predicted range of climate models. However, he also notes that there is currently no compelling evidence from observations to suggest that the rate of global warming is exceeding expectations based on human activities.

The consequences for coral and other marine organisms are immeasurable. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is experiencing its fifth extensive bleaching event in eight years. Meteorologists caution that elevated surface temperatures may also indicate a prolonged and more intense hurricane season.

According to Raúl Cordero, a climate expert at the University of Groningen and the University of Santiago, there is a higher chance of a cooling La Niña occurring from June to August. This may provide temporary relief from global warming, but it is not a long-term solution. Cordero predicts that current temperature records will likely be surpassed soon, and the situation will only worsen unless we stop using fossil fuels.

Source: theguardian.com