Global Heatwave: ‘Gobsmacking’ Autumn Sets 2023 Up to Break Records

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In a year marked by deadly heatwave, floods, and wildfires, 2023 is on track to become the warmest year on record, according to new data. Recent findings suggest that it is now “virtually certain” that this year will go down in history for its unprecedented heat. These predictions come on the heels of an “exceptional” high-temperature October, raising concerns about the ongoing impacts of climate change. Let’s delve into the details of this alarming development.

the record breaking heatwave in the United States is expected to spread further.

Record-Breaking Temperatures

During October 2023, global average air temperatures were approximately 0.4 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous record high observed in October 2019. This significant rise can be attributed to a combination of factors, including carbon emissions and the presence of an El Niño weather event. Notably, October marked the fifth consecutive month of record-breaking warmth, hinting at a worrisome trend.

A Year of Extremes

The trend of extreme global temperatures is expected to persist into 2024, posing serious concerns for the global climate. The unrelenting warmth throughout 2023, coupled with the abnormal temperature spikes in October, makes it increasingly likely that this year will shatter existing records for global heat.

Unprecedented Warming

In a staggering revelation, October 2023 was 1.7 degrees Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial average, which is the period preceding widespread fossil fuel burning. This level of warmth underscores the gravity of the situation and further solidifies the likelihood that 2023 will claim the title of the hottest year on record, surpassing the previous record holder, 2016. Several scientific bodies, including Copernicus, NOAA, and Berkeley Earth, concur that the odds of this happening are greater than 99%.

Real-World Implications

The soaring temperatures in 2023 have significant real-world consequences. Dr. Friederike Otto from Imperial College London highlights the fact that extreme heatwaves and droughts, exacerbated by the exceptional temperatures, have led to human suffering. The impacts include thousands of deaths, livelihood loss, and displacement. These records of human suffering underscore the urgency of addressing climate change.

Drivers of Heatwave

The primary driver of the heatwave is the ongoing emission of carbon dioxide, primarily from the combustion of fossil fuels. In 2023, this trend is exacerbated by the El Niño event, which releases additional heat into the atmosphere by bringing warm waters to the surface in the east Pacific Ocean. This El Niño event is unusual due to its rapid shift from La Niña conditions, which had suppressed temperatures in the previous years.

Unanswered Questions

Scientists remain uncertain about the unique characteristics of this El Niño event compared to those in recent decades, such as the ones in 1997 and 2015. They are studying whether it is responsible for more significant surface heating in the ocean than previous events, but the verdict is still out on this matter.

Alarming Temperature Increase

According to Copernicus, the year to date has seen a temperature increase of 1.43 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. These alarming figures indicate that high temperatures are expected to persist in the months ahead, which raises concerns about the future.

Urgent Call to Action

Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, points out that both Copernicus data and UN assessments suggest that 2023 could be “warmer than anything that the planet has seen for 125,000 years.” This revelation sets the stage for the upcoming UN’s COP28 summit, beginning on 30 November, with an urgent call for ambitious climate action.

Global Impacts

The elevated temperatures in October had far-reaching effects across the globe. In the UK, temperatures were approximately 1 degree Celsius above average, with southern England experiencing the most significant anomaly at 1.7 degrees Celsius above normal. Wet conditions persisted, with precipitation levels around 40% above average.

In Italy, temperatures soared to over 3 degrees Celsius above normal, coinciding with significant flooding in certain regions. A drought linked to El Niño led to the driest October on the Panama Canal since 1950, affecting trade operations.

Other regions also faced severe consequences. Parts of the Middle East suffered from drought, while East Africa was hit by deadly floods. In November, hundreds of heat records were already broken in Japan. Europe witnessed temperatures exceeding 35 degrees Celsius in November, an unprecedented occurrence, with high readings in various parts of Greece.

As temperatures continue to rise, concerns loom about the potential for more extreme events in the coming months. Australia has already been warned of an “increased risk” of wildfires.

In conclusion, 2023 is poised to set alarming records for global heat, driven by a combination of factors, including carbon emissions and El Niño. The consequences of this warming trend are evident in extreme weather events and human suffering. Urgent and ambitious climate action is imperative to address this global crisis.

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