Heat Records Are Broken Around the Globe as Earth Warms, Fast

Temperatures are rising from north to south as a result of the effects of El Niño and greenhouse gases trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Scientists said on Thursday that the previous three days were likely the warmest in Earth’s modern history as a startling wave of heat throughout the planet proceeded to break temperature records from North America to Antarctica.

The increase coincides with warnings from meteorologists that the planet may be entering a multiyear era of extreme warmth brought on by two primary factors: the continuation of heat-trapping gas emissions, primarily from human activity burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, and the reemergence of the cyclical weather pattern El Niño.

The spike has already been striking. According to studies, the earth recently witnessed its warmest June on record, with fatal heat waves searing Texas, Mexico, and India. This year, sea ice levels off the coastlines of Antarctica have decreased to historic lows.

Additionally, the ocean has been abnormally warm in the North Atlantic. Surface temperatures in May broke records by an exceptionally wide margin, rising by 2.9 degrees Fahrenheit (1.6 degrees Celsius) above average for the time of year.

Even climate change researchers are concerned about the sudden spike in temperatures.

Senior research scientist at the University of Miami Brian McNoldy remarked, “It’s so far out of line with what’s been observed that it’s hard to wrap your head around.” It doesn’t seem to be true.

According to a study by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, Tuesday’s global average temperature rose to 62.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 17 Celsius, making it the planet’s hottest day since at least 1940, when records began, and perhaps earlier.

Since that was an average, certain regions of the world experienced the additional heat more strongly. For instance, climate change has made the current heat wave about 5 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than it would have been otherwise in the Southern United States and Northern Mexico, where the heat index has reached triple digits, according to researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at Berkeley Earth and the payments business Stripe, stated that the planet’s general warming is “well within the realm of what scientists had projected would happen” as long as people continue to release massive quantities of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at Berkeley Earth and the payments business Stripe, stated that the planet’s general warming is “well within the realm of what scientists had projected would happen” as long as people continue to release massive quantities of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Globally, Earth has warmed by around 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century, and temperatures will continue to rise until people virtually stop all fossil fuel emissions and eliminate deforestation.

However, additional variables on top of the warming induced by human activity may have contributed to the recent sharp increase in temperatures. For instance, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, a cyclical event in the Pacific Ocean, produces year-to-year variations by moving heat into and out of deeper ocean layers. La Niña years typically see a decrease in global surface temperatures, while El Niño years typically see an increase.

Dr. Hausfather stated that the change from an abnormally lengthy three-year La Niña, which reduced temperatures, to a robust El Niño is a major factor in why so many records are being broken.

That suggests that there will soon be even more heat. Many scientists predict that the current El Niño won’t peak until December or January, with another rise in global temperatures expected in the months that follow. According to scientists, this suggests that next year might be much hotter than this one.

There can also be other dynamics at play. Since the beginning of March, before El Niño conditions started, the North Atlantic has seen record heat. The Azores High, a subtropical high pressure system that has diminished the winds blowing across the ocean and reduced the amount of dust flying from the Sahara, which typically helps cool the ocean, may be one contributing factor.

In the next weeks, those weather patterns might change, according to Dr. McNoldy of the University of Miami. “But even then, we’d probably be going from insanely record-breaking temperatures down to just extremely record-breaking,” he said.

Some meteorologists have increased their hurricane season warnings as a result of the extreme temperatures. In contrast to earlier predictions of a quieter-than-normal year, Colorado State University meteorologists said on Thursday that they now anticipate an above-average Atlantic hurricane season with about 18 tropical cyclones. Although hurricanes in the Atlantic are often repressed during El Niño years, this year’s extremely warm ocean waters, which can fuel storms, suggest that this may not be the case.

Since sulphur dioxide tends to reflect sunlight and chill the globe considerably, other researchers have hypothesised that recent efforts to clean up sulphur pollution from ships throughout the world may be modestly increasing temperatures. However, there is still disagreement over the exact impact.

“There does seem to be this unusual convergence of warming factors right now,” said Princeton climate scientist Gabriel Vecchi. “However, all of this is taking place in a world where greenhouse gas emissions have been rising for the past 150 years, which really loads the dice and increases the likelihood that we will be pushed into record-breaking territory.”

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