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As temperature benchmarks collapse, experts acknowledge that Earth is entering uncharted territory

Recent climate records, including temperature, ocean heat, and Antarctic sea ice, have frightened some researchers. The United Nations has warned that Europe’s dangerous heatwaves may set new records. The complexity of weather and oceans makes it difficult to attribute these occurrences to climate change quickly. Research is being conducted, but scientists are worried that the worst-case scenarios may be coming true.

Thomas Smith, an environmental geographer at the London School of Economics, claims, “I’m not aware of a similar period when all parts of the climate system were in record-breaking or abnormal territory.” According to Dr Paulo Ceppi, a climate science lecturer at Imperial College London, “the Earth is in uncharted territory” due to the heat from the first El Nio — a warming natural weather phenomenon — since 2018.

This summer has already shattered four climate records: the warmest day on record, the hottest June globally, intense maritime heat waves, and record-low Antarctic sea ice. The world’s hottest day I ever occurred in July, surpassing the 2016 record for the warmest month. According to Copernicus, the EU’s climate monitoring service, the average worldwide temperature passed 17 degrees Celsius for the first time on July 6. Constant emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels like oil, coal, and gas are the primary cause of global warming.

a yellow color water image

Climate change and weather pattern comprehension

An easy-to-understand primer on global warming. How does El Nio affect the weather, and what exactly is it? According to Dr Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, this is exactly what was predicted to happen in a world warmed by increased greenhouse gases.

The human race, she says, is fully supportive of the increasing tendency. The fact that these records are being broken in June rather than later in the year has caught me off the most. According to Dr Smith, El Nio typically has no global influence until around five or six months into the phase. The effects of El Nio, the world’s strongest natural climate fluctuation, are felt everywhere. As the warmer water rises to the surface, it forces the warmer air aloft over the tropical Pacific. In most cases, it raises average temperatures around the world.

This year’s June worldwide average temperature was 1.47 degrees Celsius, higher than a typical June from the pre-industrial era. The beginning of the Industrial Revolution, around 1800, marked the beginning of humankind’s release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Dr Smith was asked if he expected the summer of 2023 to be like this, and he responded that climate models are effective at predicting long-term trends but could be better at projecting the following decade.

Here are four ways global warming is altering the seasons:
Most of where we are now may be attributed to models developed in the 1990s. Predicting the future is tough, and he says it’ll be even worse to predict the next decade. “Things aren’t going to cool down,” he says.

Searing heat waves

Ocean temperatures worldwide were significantly higher than average in May, June, and July. The record high temperature of the ocean set in 2016 is about to be broken. However, scientists are especially worried by the North Atlantic Ocean’s very high temperatures.

No marine heatwave has ever been recorded in this part of the Atlantic. Daniela Schmidt, professor of earth sciences at the University of Bristol, was stunned. Because temperatures were 4 to 5 degrees Celsius above usual in June off the west coast of Ireland, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) classified the heatwave as a category five heatwave (i.e., “beyond extreme”).

Professor Schmidt says it’s been challenging to link this heatwave to global warming, but studies are still being conducted. She claims that it is clear that the planet has warmed since the oceans have absorbed most of the excess heat from the atmosphere. In her words: “Our models have natural variability in them, and there are still things appearing that we had not envisaged, or at least yet.”

a raining yard image

Extremely little sea ice in Antarctica

In July, there has never been a lower extent of sea ice in the Antarctic. If we use an average for the years 1981-2010, the lost territory would be about ten times the size of the United Kingdom. While trying to pin down the exact relationship to climate change, scientists are raising the alarm.

Dr Caroline Holmes of the British Antarctic Survey suggests that the dramatic loss in Antarctic sea ice may be due to local weather or ocean currents in addition to global warming. She says the record isn’t just being broken; it’s being shattered. Nothing like this has ever happened in July before. A 10% decline from the prior low is noteworthy.

To her, this is “yet another indication that we fail to grasp the rapidity of modern change.”

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