Heat streak breaks records as 2024 set to become hottest year in history

Experts say every month since June 2023 has broken heat records compared to same months in previous years; some hopeful for future cooling due to new weather phenomenon

Last month was the hottest June on record across the globe, the EU's climate monitor said Monday, capping half a year of wild and destructive weather from floods to heat waves. The worrying data raises fears that 2024 could become the hottest year in recorded history.
Every month since June 2023 has eclipsed its own temperature record in a 13-month streak of unprecedented global heat, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) reported.
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שלטי אזהרה מפני מהחום הכבד בארה"ב
שלטי אזהרה מפני מהחום הכבד בארה"ב
Heat warning signs in the U.S.
(Photo: Ty ONeil, AP)
"This is more than a statistical oddity and it highlights a large and continuing shift in our climate," said service director, Carlo Buontempo. "Even if this specific streak of extremes ends at some point, we are bound to see new records being broken as the climate continues to warm."
This was "inevitable" as long as humanity keeps adding heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, he said. The global average temperature notched last month broke the previous June record set in 2023.
The fresh high came at the midway point of a year marked by climate extremes.
Scorching heat has blanketed swathes of the world from India to Saudi Arabia, the United States and Mexico in the first half of this year.
Relentless rain, a phenomenon scientists have also linked to a warmer planet, caused extensive flooding in Kenya, China, Brazil, Afghanistan, Russia and France.
Wildfires have torched land in Greece and Canada and last week, Hurricane Beryl became the earliest category five Atlantic hurricane on record as it barreled across several Caribbean islands.
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אב ובתו מנסים להתמודד עם החום הכבד בארה"ב
אב ובתו מנסים להתמודד עם החום הכבד בארה"ב
Girl and her father battling heat in the U.S.
(Photo: Alex Brandon, AP)
The streak of record-breaking temperatures coincided with El Nino, a natural phenomenon that contributes to hotter weather globally, said Julien Nicolas, a senior scientist at C3S.
"That was part of the factors behind the temperature records, but it was not the only one," he told AFP.
Ocean temperatures have also been hitting new highs.
Record sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic, Northern Pacific and Indian oceans also contributed to the soaring heat across the globe. Sea surface temperatures hit a separate milestone in June – 15 straight months of new highs, an occurrence Nicolas described as "striking."
The oceans cover 70% of the Earth's surface and absorb 90% of the extra heat associated with rising climate-warming emissions.
"What happens to the ocean surface has an important impact on the air temperature above the surface and global average temperature as well," he said.
However, the world is about to transition into a La Nina phase, which has a cooling effect.
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שיאי טמפרטורה שנרשמים ברצף של 13 חודשים ועלולים להפוך את 2024 לחמה ביותר בהיסטוריה
שיאי טמפרטורה שנרשמים ברצף של 13 חודשים ועלולים להפוך את 2024 לחמה ביותר בהיסטוריה
(Photo: AFP)
"We can expect the global (air) temperature to taper down in the next few months," said Nicolas.
"If these record (sea surface) temperatures persist, even as La Nina conditions develop that might lead to 2024 being warmer than 2023. But it's too early to tell," he added.
Global air temperatures in the 12 months to June 2024 were the highest ever recorded – on average 1.64°C above pre-industrial levels, Copernicus said. This doesn't mean the 1.5°C warming limit agreed by 196 countries in Paris in 2015 has been breached, because that goal is measured in decades, not individual years.
But last month, Copernicus said there was an 80% chance that Earth's annual average temperatures would at least temporarily exceed the 1.5°C mark during the next five years.
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