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A year of unprecedented heat: What does the future hold?

A year of unprecedented heat: What does the future hold?

Baku, June 11, AZERTAC

As the world grapples with a year marked by extreme temperatures, climate scientists are raising concerns about the potential implications for the summer months, according to Anadolu Agency.

A recent report by the European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) observed that May 2024 was the warmest May on record globally, with a global average surface air temperature 0.65C (1.17F) above the 1991-2020 average.

It further indicated that the global average temperature for the last 12 months, from June 2023 to May 2024, is the highest on record, at 0.75C (1.35F) above the 1991-2020 average and 1.63C (2.93F) above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average.

“This marked the 12th consecutive month for which the global average temperature reaches a record value for the corresponding month,” said a statement by C3S.

Carlo Buontempo, the director of C3S, in a statement called the 12-month streak "shocking" but not surprising.

"While this sequence of record-breaking months will eventually be interrupted, the overall signature of climate change remains, and there is no sign in sight of a change in such a trend," he added.

Experts also warned that the record heat being observed for the past 12 months can have an impact on this summer.

Piers Forster, director of the Priestley Center for Climate Futures at the University of Leeds in the UK, expects many countries to have their temperature records broken this summer.

“India and the Middle East are seeing very high temperatures now. I would also expect a very hot summer in Türkiye,” said Forster, adding that Türkiye is more prepared than most for hot summers.

He stressed that all countries need to take the threat of global warming seriously and take action.

"The world is experiencing some extreme heat at the moment, largely driven by greenhouse gas emissions. It has been particularly hot in 2023, also due to natural factors such as El Niño, but in 10 years’ time such temperatures will be common," he told Anadolu.

Global climate agencies warn about how temperatures from this year onwards till the next four years, can set a new record, surpassing 2023, which is currently the warmest year documented.

A recent report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) indicated that the planet's annual average temperature is 80% likely to temporarily exceed the 1.5C (2.7F) threshold above pre-industrial levels for at least one of the next five years.

The global mean near-surface temperature for each year between 2024 and 2028 is predicted to be between 1.1C and 1.9C higher than the 1850-1900 baseline, said the UN weather agency's report.

C3S also already reported that the global average temperature for May 2024 was 1.52C (2.73F) above the 1850–1900 pre-industrial average, marking the 11th consecutive month since July 2023 at or above 1.5C.

“While temperatures fluctuate from one year to the next due to natural variability, breaching the 1.5C limit (which was agreed as the safe limit for the global climate in Paris in 2015) for a whole year is quite a landmark moment,” said Maximilian Kotz, a post-doctoral research scientist for the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Joeri Rogelj, a professor of climate science and policy and director of research at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said the recent reports and updates show the "dire state of our climate, the outcome of our continued greenhouse gas pollution."

"Human-caused global warming stood at 1.3C last year and is increasing at 0.26C per decade, a record pace," he added.

He warned that with global warming advancing so "precipitously" towards the Paris Agreement's 1.5C limit, this means that an increasing number of individual days, months and years will show a global temperature that is more than 1.5C higher than preindustrial levels.

"The first time this happens -- potentially already over the next few years, says the WMO -- global warming won't have breached the Paris Agreement's lower long-term warming limit yet, but it will be a clarion call for the need for ambitious and sustained action on climate."

Rogelj highlighted the need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

"Significantly lowering greenhouse gas pollution over the next five to 10 years is the only way to ensure that the planet is not warming by another quarter of a degree by 2035,” he said.

Speaking about the record heat in the past 12 months, climate researcher Kotz said that while phenomena like El Niño have added to it, it has largely been due to emissions and global warming.

"It’s clear that this unprecedented amount of global heat is fundamentally driven by human emissions and subsequent global warming," he said.

Kotz warned that continued global warming has huge consequences across the world.

This includes frequent and intense heat waves and flooding events and greater rates of ice sheet melting in Greenland and Antarctica that fuels sea-level rise.

“Further global warming also increases the risks of breaching tipping points, beyond which Greenland and Western Antarctica may continue to melt uncontrollably, leading to large sea-level rise (approximately 10 meters) in the long term (more than 100s of years)," he said.

In the near term, more frequent and intense heat waves and flooding events place our economies under additional stresses which cause deaths.

"With global warming above 1.5C for a whole year, we are likely to see more of these kind of effects on our economies across the world," Kotz added.

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