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Scientists Warn April 2024 Hottest Ever as Global Heat Surges

Despite the ongoing weakening of the El Niño weather phenomenon, which typically contributes to increased heat, April saw abnormally warm conditions persisting globally. A report released by the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service revealed that April marked another month of record-breaking global air and sea surface temperature averages. This trend was attributed to human-caused climate change exacerbating extremes.

According to Copernicus, since June of the previous year, every month has set records for being the warmest such period on record. April 2024 continued this trend, with temperatures registering at 1.58 degrees Celsius above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average. This anomaly underscores the intensity of the global temperature conditions experienced currently.

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While the streak of monthly global temperature records is unusual, Copernicus noted that a similar phenomenon occurred in 2015/16. However, the consecutive months of record-breaking temperatures highlight the exceptional nature of the current climate conditions. The average temperature over the last 12 months also exceeded pre-industrial levels by 1.6 degrees Celsius, surpassing the 1.5-degree target set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Despite not necessarily indicating a failure to meet the Paris target, this trend underscores the remarkable nature of the global temperature conditions. April 2024 was the second warmest on record for Europe, following similarly warm months in March and throughout the entire winter period.

The global climate landscape in April was characterized by diverging extremes, including heatwaves in Asia and flooding in southern Brazil. Swathes of Asia experienced scorching temperatures, while regions such as southern Spain, Italy, and the western Balkans faced drier conditions. Floods affected parts of North America, Central Asia, and the Persian Gulf, while eastern Australia experienced heavy rainfall.

Although the El Niño pattern peaked earlier in the year and was transitioning towards neutral conditions in April, sea surface temperatures continued to break records for the 13th consecutive month. This poses threats to marine life, atmospheric humidity levels, and the oceans' ability to absorb greenhouse gas emissions.

Looking ahead, climate forecasts suggest the potential transition to La Niña in the second half of the year, which could lower global temperatures. However, uncertainties remain regarding future climate conditions.

Despite the transition away from El Niño, the trend of rising global temperatures is expected to continue due to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. The UN had already warned of a high probability of record temperatures in 2024, following a decade of record heat. While it is too early to predict whether new records will continue to be broken, the exceptional nature of 2023's climate highlights the ongoing urgency of addressing climate change.

May 8, 2024 11:07 a.m. 4279

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