‘2024 will be even warmer worldwide than 2023’: already an unprecedented start to the year

‘2024 will be even warmer worldwide than 2023’: already an unprecedented start to the year
‘2024 will be even warmer worldwide than 2023’: already an unprecedented start to the year

A year has never started as warm as 2024. Why is that?

“The main cause is of course man-made climate change. Since 1850, man has become addicted to burning fossil fuels. As a result, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased enormously. The effects of what has been emitted since then were not immediately visible, but are now becoming increasingly tangible.

“In addition, there is also the natural weather phenomenon El Niño. Every two to seven years, the winds around the equator change direction. As a result, more warm water wells up on the west coast of South America, causing more precipitation there. On the other side of the Pacific Ocean it creates more dry, warm situations.”

2023 was the warmest year on record. Does this start mean we can expect the same for 2024?

“Yes, we expect that, overall, 2024 will be even warmer than 2023. Even if El Niño would normally end around summer.”

Not only in the first three months of this year, but in the past ten months, global temperature records have been broken again and again. How worrying is that?

“It is extremely confronting that this is not an isolated case, but month after month, different records are being broken in different countries.

“It is now especially important to keep an eye on the limit of 1.5 degrees of warming compared to the pre-industrial period. Once we cross that limit worldwide, numerous mechanisms will be set in motion – just think of changes in ocean circulation or the melting of the ice caps – the risks of which we do not yet fully know.

“According to Copernicus, the global average temperature already exceeded that limit from March 2023 to February 2024. That is worrying, because it may be an indication that we are structurally at 1.5 degrees of warming.

Are temperature records the new normal?

“Yes. That is why it is so important not to focus too blindly on those record values, but to focus on avoiding every 0.1 degree of warming, and therefore even worse consequences. For example, through a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Ocean temperatures also reached record highs last year, with visible consequences for coral reefs. What consequences do these temperature records still have?

“A shift in the seasons, for example. The past Belgian winter was abnormally mild. February was also warmer here compared to 1991 to 2020, the reference period used by climate scientists worldwide.

“In March we had the fourth highest average temperature in Uccle since 1991. The number of snow days is decreasing, there is less frost and ice. And the average minimum temperature is also the second highest since then. So it has never really been cold.

“In Asia there have been temperatures and even heat waves that you would normally only expect during the summer.

“A recent study has once again shown that there will be increasingly longer-lasting heat waves around the world due to human-induced climate warming.

“These heat waves are of course dangerous to human health. Moreover, not all countries have the resources to resist these changes with the right infrastructure, such as air conditioning. But the consequences for nature are also already visible. For example, the blossoms of the Japanese cherry tree now bloom much earlier in the year.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: warmer worldwide unprecedented start year


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