The global average temperature for 2023 has been officially confirmed as a record high by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
After evaluating six different measurement series, it announced the value on Friday as 1.45 degrees above the pre-industrial level (1850-1900). All six institutes had classified 2023 as the hottest year. The new head of the WMO, Celeste Saulo, warned that this year could set a new record.
Data from six climate services shows 2023 was the warmest year
So far, 2016 has been the hottest year since industrialization. The global average temperature at that time was around 1.29 degrees higher. 2022 was 1.15 degrees warmer than before industrialization. This week, the European climate service Copernicus put the global average temperature for 2023 at 1.48 degrees. The WMO also evaluated measurement series from three American and two British institutes for its calculation. In each case, it gives the measurement uncertainty as plus/minus 0.12 degrees. According to the WMO, the actual average temperature is likely to have been 15.09 degrees. However, the measurement uncertainty is noticeably greater.
Natural weather phenomenon El Niño would have influenced temperatures last year
WMO chief Saulo pointed out that the natural weather phenomenon El Niño influenced temperatures last year. Every few years, it causes a rise in water temperatures in parts of the Pacific and higher air temperatures. Its counterpart, La Niña, depresses temperatures. “The fact that the cooling La Niña became a warming El Niño by mid-2023 is clearly reflected in last year’s temperature rise,” Saulo said. “Since El Niño usually has the greatest impact on global temperatures after it peaks, 2024 could be even hotter.” The US weather agency NOAA expects El Niño to weaken later this spring.
The probability that 2024 will be even warmer than 2023 is not particularly high. It is currently one in three, according to a joint press conference held by the US space agency NASA and the US Climate Agency NOAA on Friday. However, the probability that 2024 will fall below the five warmest years measured to date is 99 percent.
Curbing climate change more decisively
WMO chief Saulo called on the global community to decisively curb climate change. This would require more drastic cuts in climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions and a faster transition to renewable energies. “Climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity,” she said.
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