Earth has just had its hottest year on record

Preliminary data indicates that humanity’s climate crisis drove global temperatures to new heights last year

Io Dodds
Tuesday 02 January 2024 10:22 GMT
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The Earth had its hottest year on record in 2023, according to preliminary data from the US government and other climate research bodies.

Scientists across the world have been warning for months that the past year would smash previous records due to the ongoing climate crisis caused by humanity's greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has said that it is “all but certain” that 2023 will indeed rank as the warmest year in 174 years.

“We are engaged in an unprecedented experiment with our planet,” University of Pennsylvania meteorologist Michael Mann told USA TODAY.

“There is still time to prevent devastating climate consequences, but the window of opportunity is shrinking.”

While the results of last year's measurements still need to be finalised, the World Meteorological Organisation, the European Union's Copernicus climate measurement programme, and the NOAA have all said that they are extremely likely to break records.

A person runs to avoid the flames of a wildfire in Gennadi village, on the Aegean Sea island of Rhodes, in the summer (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Most of the hottest years since 1940 have happened in the last decade, according to Copernicus data, and average temperatures for each 20-year block have been steadily rising since 1979.

The heat last year exacerbated natural disasters around the world. In Libya, thousands of people were killed after flooding triggered the collapse of two dams, and other flash floods cost lives in Brazil, China, and the US.

Meanwhile, wildfires exploded across Greece, Italy, Croatia, Algeria, and Canada, in the latter country destroying more than 71,000 square miles – roughly equivalent to the entire state of Washington.

Last year's temperatures were at the high end of existing scientific predictions, according to The New York Times.

Some experts believe that the Earth is being warmed even faster than previously imagined, yet others believe we do not yet have enough data to draw that conclusion.

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