Scientists say 2024 begins with record-breaking January temperatures

Scientists say 2024 begins with record-breaking January temperatures

Record temperatures in 2023 will continue into 2024, with heat records on land and sea already broken during the first month of the year.

According to the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service, January 2024 was the world's warmest January on record.

“2024 starts with another record month – not only is it the warmest January on record, but we have just witnessed a 12-month period in which temperatures were more than 1.5°C (2.7°F) higher than the pre-industrial reference period,” said Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Service. Copernicus Climate Change, in a statement:

January marks the eighth consecutive warmest month on record.

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How much warmer was the air temperature?

The average global air temperature in January 2024 was 55.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That's 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit compared to the 1991-2000 average in January, and 2.98 degrees warmer than the estimated pre-industrial average (accepted as the 1850-1900 average). January 2024 also broke the previous January record, from 2020, by 0.22°F.

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The temperature anomaly in January 2024 was lower than the previous six months of monthly variations compared to the 1991-2020 average. But C3S noted that this anomaly was higher than anything before July 2023.

While much of the United States shivered in the Arctic blast through much of January, southern Europe, eastern Canada, northwest Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia sweltered with temperatures well above normal.

How much warmer is too warm?

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Climate scientists and policymakers are watching the difference, fearing that the average global temperature rise over 20 years compared to pre-industrial estimates will exceed the accepted standard of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

“The 1.5°C figure is not just an arbitrary statistic,” said WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas. “It is rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful to people and to the entire planet.”

Countries that ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement pledged to keep the number “well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels” and try to “limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit)” above pre-industrial levels. Industry.

The World Meteorological Organization says El Niño and climate change are likely to make the next five years the hottest on Earth.

According to the Latest UN climate assessment reportHowever, the 20-year average global temperature must exceed 1.5°C (2.7°F) for the Paris Agreement to be violated.

“One year of going above 1.5°C does not mean that we have violated the landmark threshold of the Paris Agreement, but it does reveal that we are closer than ever to a situation where 1.5°C can be exceeded for an extended period.” said Leon Hermansson, Ph.D., of the UK Met Office.

Recording sea surface temperatures

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Global average sea surface temperatures also set a record high in January at 69.7 degrees Fahrenheit. That exceeded the previous average January record, from 2016, by 0.47 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature was 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit lower than the warmest month on record, August 2023.

Since January 31, daily sea temperatures have broken records set on August 23 and 24, 2023.

While Arctic sea ice extent was close to average, Antarctic sea ice extent was 18% below average. So January 2024 represents the sixth lowest ice extent but well above the record low set in January 2023, which was 31% lower.

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