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2023 Our planet’s hottest year on record [Video]

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Canadian Environment and Climate

2023 Our planet’s hottest year on record

2023 broke the record for the planet’s hottest year by a significant margin and likely the world’s warmest in the last 100,000 years (European Union’s climate agency).
The average temperature in 2023 was 0.17C higher than in 2016, the previous record year. On average, the planet was 1.48 degrees Celsius warmer than in the 1850-1900 pre-industrial period, when humans began burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale, pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
While the first few months of the year 2023 saw only a small number of days breaking air temperature records, there was an almost unbroken streak of daily records in the second half. Beginning in June, the planet experienced month after month of warmer-than-usual conditions, with July and August coming in as the warmest two months ever recorded, according to the Copernicus report.
2023 saw record droughts, drying up of water bodies including the Amazon river. Wildfires blazed across Greece and Canada in the second half of the year. Devastating floods in Libya wiped out entire neighbourhoods in coastal towns. Flash floods in Himachal Pradesh in late July & August caused destructive landslides and the collapse of numerous buildings.
The temperature of the air is only one measure of the Earth’s rapidly changing climate. 2023 also experienced:
The world’s sea surface hitting the highest recorded temperature amid multiple marine heatwaves in 2023
Antarctic sea-ice hitting an “almost mind-blowing” low, with Arctic sea-ice also below average.
Glaciers in western North America and the European Alps undergoing an extreme melt season, adding to sea-level rise.
If not for human-caused global heating, some extreme weather events wouldn’t even have happened. A study found that the heatwaves in Europe and the US were made 950 and 4,400 times more likely by global heating. Another searing heatwave, in China, was made 50 times more likely by the climate crisis.
The natural climate phenomenon El Niño has also contributed to the increased global temperature rise along with record carbon dioxide emissions. El Nino events typically bring with them a range of challenges that harm crops and deplete fish populations, and elevate the risk of diseases. These collectively lead to immediate damages and substantial economic losses in years to come.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has confirmed that the El Nino effect will persist until April 2024. We can already witness its impacts in many parts of the world. The likelihood of temperatures continuing to rise this year, 2024 is extremely high.

Down to Earth is Science and Environment fortnightly published by the Society for Environmental Communication, New Delhi. We publish news and analysis on issues that deal with sustainable development, which we scan through the eyes of science and environment.

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