Earth Records Hottest 12 Months Ever: Copernicus Climate Change Service

A report by Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) says that the world experienced unprecedented heat in 2023, breaking temperature records and sounding the alarm on climate change. 2024 is on track to be even hotter.

Key Points

  • According to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), the 12 months from February 2023 to January 2024 saw warming of 1.52°C above pre-industrial levels, crossing the critical 1.5°C threshold set out in the Paris Agreement for the first time.
  • 2023 saw a succession of extreme heatwaves, droughts, storms, and wildfires around the world, supercharged by climate change and the El Niño weather pattern.
  • It was likely the hottest year in the last 100,000 years and almost certain to be the hottest since records began in 1850.
  • Scientists called it a “warning to humanity” that we are moving faster towards 1.5°C than expected.

2024: Continuing the Trend

  • January 2024 was the warmest January ever recorded globally. This followed the hottest October, November, December, and 2023 as a whole on record.
  • Regions like northwestern Africa, the Middle East, and southern Europe saw particularly high temperatures.
  • Chile struggled with a severe heatwave and drought, exacerbating devastating wildfires that led to over 130 deaths.
  • While the El Niño has started weakening, sea surface temperatures hit new highs.

The Bigger Picture

  • Global emissions continue to rise, when scientists say they must fall rapidly. The IPCC warns we’ll likely breach 1.5°C in the early 2030s at this rate.
  • Oceans have absorbed over 90% of excess heat, wreaking havoc on weather systems. 2023 saw “ocean dynamics go berserk” according to scientists.
  • Urgent, drastic emissions cuts are needed to stop temperatures rising further. But some experts believe 1.5°C is now unavoidable, though we must still act to minimize overshooting it.
  • Every fraction of a degree matters. At just 1°C of warming we already see deadly impacts. Higher temperatures will unleash worse, irreversible consequences.

2023 smashed the 1.5°C ceiling, and 2024 is following suit. This alarming sequence of record heat highlights the accelerating climate crisis. To give future generations a liveable planet, transformative action is needed now to rapidly cut emissions to zero.



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