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Researchers Elaborate on Unprecedented 2023 Temperature Spike - 'Climate Change Could Be Exacerbating'
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Researchers Elaborate on Unprecedented 2023 Temperature Spike – ‘Climate Change Could Be Exacerbating’

The most recent data from various scientific organizations indicating that the Earth broke global temperature records last year may be alarming. However, experts are concerned that the underlying causes behind these statistics could be even more concerning.

The Associated Press conducted interviews and sent emails to over 30 scientists to inquire about the significance of the broken records. The majority expressed concern over the potential acceleration of climate change, which is currently approaching the limit of a 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) increase since pre-industrial times, a threshold that many nations aimed to stay below.

Katharine Jacobs, a climate scientist from the University of Arizona, stated that the high temperatures experienced in the past year were a significant warning from Mother Nature. Experts suggest that the increase in temperature of both air and water is causing more severe and frequent heat waves, floods, droughts, storms, and wildfires, resulting in detrimental effects.

The latest calculations from two leading American science agencies, the British meteorological service, and a private organization established by a climate doubter show that the average global temperatures have surpassed the previous record by 0.15 degrees Celsius, which is a significant increase.

A number of researchers involved in the computations noted that the climate exhibited unusual patterns in 2023. They are questioning if the combination of human-induced climate change and a natural El Nino event were intensified by an unexpected anomaly, or if there is a larger underlying factor at play. NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt suggested that this could include a widely debated increase in warming.

FILE - A villager sprays water on his livestock to protect them from heat in Ballia district, Uttar Pradesh state, India, June 19, 2023.

On June 19, 2023 in Ballia district, Uttar Pradesh state, India, a villager took measures to protect his livestock from the heat by spraying them with water.

A possible solution may not be available until late spring or early summer. This is due to the predicted decline of a strong El Nino, a cyclical increase in Pacific Ocean temperatures that impacts weather patterns globally. If ocean temperatures, including those in deeper waters, continue to break records even into the summer months, such as what occurred in 2023, it could be a worrisome indication.

Nearly every scientist who responded to AP’s questions blamed greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels as the overwhelmingly largest reason the world hit temperatures that human civilization has not likely seen before. El Nino, which is bordering on “very strong,” is the second-biggest factor, with other conditions far behind, they said.

NASA’s Schmidt mentioned that the year 2023 was quite unusual and unclear upon further investigation.

According to Schmidt and Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Europe’s Copernicus Climate Service, the timing for when the significant increase in temperature in 2023 started is a crucial factor. This week, the service reported a warming of 1.48 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

According to reports, temperatures were usually at their peak above the usual levels in late winter and spring. However, in 2023, the highest heat occurred in June and remained at record-breaking levels for several months.

Former NASA climate scientist James Hansen, often considered the godfather of global warming science, theorized last year that warming was accelerating. While many of the scientists contacted by AP said they suspect it is happening, others were adamant that evidence so far supports only a steady and long-predicted increase.

According to climate scientist Daniel Swain from UCLA, there is evidence indicating that the rate of warming in the past decade has been slightly quicker than in the previous decade. This aligns with the mathematical definition of acceleration. However, it is consistent with predictions that warming would speed up, particularly as particle pollution in the air decreases.

The average temperature of Earth in 2023, as calculated by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was 59.12 degrees Fahrenheit (15.08 degrees Celsius). This is 0.27 degrees Fahrenheit (0.15 degrees Celsius) higher than the previous record set in 2016 and 2.43 degrees Fahrenheit (1.35 degrees Celsius) higher than pre-industrial temperatures.

NASA and the United Kingdom Meteorological Office recorded a warming of 2.5 degrees (1.39 degrees Celsius) and 2.63 degrees (1.46 degrees Celsius) respectively since the mid-19th century. These records date back to 1850.

The World Meteorological Organization reported that 2023 is projected to be 1.45 degrees Celsius (2.61 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrial temperatures, based on the combined measurements announced on Friday and previous calculations from Japan and Europe.

A man cools off during a heat wave under an open air shower in Baghdad, Iraq, July, 6, 2023.

A man takes a refreshing break from the heat during a heat wave by using an outdoor shower in Baghdad, Iraq on July 6, 2023.

Several climate experts expressed doubts about achieving the 1.5-degree target outlined in the 2015 Paris agreement, which aimed to prevent the severe impacts of global warming.

Jennifer Francis, a scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, expressed doubt about the feasibility of keeping the average warming over several years to 1.5C. In an email, she stated that while it is technically achievable, it may not be politically viable.

Katharine Hayhoe, the primary researcher at The Nature Conservancy, concurred. “The sluggish progress towards addressing climate change and the ongoing spread of false information that fuels it has never been due to a lack of scientific evidence or viable solutions; it has always been, and still is, a result of lacking political determination.”

According to NASA and NOAA, the ten years spanning from 2014 to 2023 have been the hottest on record. This marks the third instance in the past eight years where a new global heat record has been established.

“The frequency at which records are being broken is a major concern,” stated Randall Cerveny, a scientist at Arizona State University who assists with record-keeping for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).