2023 was hottest year on record due to human-driven climate change and El Nino, scientists confirm

9 January 2024, 12:32

2024 could be even hotter, scientists have said
2024 could be even hotter, scientists have said. Picture: Getty/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Last year was the hottest on record, with warnings 2024 could be even warmer, according to EU scientists.

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The average global temperature was 14.98C, which is 0.17C hotter than the previous record set in 2016, the EU's climate change service Copernicus said.

According to Met Office scientists, the record might not last long, with 2024 set to be hotter than ever.

The global temperature is expected to rise 1.5C above the global average between 1850 and 1900. Last year, the temperature was 1.48C above.

There is a global commitment to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, as scientists predict this will reduce the negative impacts of climate change.

A man sits next to a fountain during a hot summer day in Malaga, Spain
A man sits next to a fountain during a hot summer day in Malaga, Spain. Picture: Getty

However, one year above the average between the period does not suggest a failure to contain global warming below 1.5C, as the temperature is measured across a decade.

The increasing global temperature was driven partly by human-caused climate change, as well as the weather phenomenon El Nino.

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El Nino is the warming of sea surface temperature that occurs every few years.

Copernicus scientists also found that July 2023 was most likely the hottest month on earth for more than 120,000 years, with Antarctic sea ice at an all-time low.

Aemet Activates Orange Heat Warning In Seville
Aemet Activates Orange Heat Warning In Seville. Picture: Getty

Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said: "2023 was an exceptional year with climate records tumbling like dominoes.

"Not only is 2023 the warmest year on record, it is also the first year with all days over 1C warmer than the pre-industrial period.

"Temperatures during 2023 likely exceed those of any period in at least the last 100,000 years."

Meanwhile, emissions from wildfires increase by 30 percent in 2023, primarily due to huge fires across Canada.

And, while there were no extreme temperatures in the UK, as happened in 2022, much of Europe was subject to intense heatwaves, with temperatures soaring towards 50C in some countries.

Greece and Spain regularly saw temperatures soar well past 40C, contributing to frequent fires.

Dr Nick Dunstone, a Met Office climate scientists, added: "The extraordinary global heat through 2023 made it possible to signal it would be the hottest year on record well before the year had finished. This level of warming is in line with climate projections.

"We expect the strong El Nino in the Pacific to impact the global temperature through 2024. For this reason we are forecasting 2024 to be another record breaking year, with the possibility of temporarily exceeding 1.5C for the first time."

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