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Extreme Heat Persists Around the World As Scientists Warn El Niño Has Yet to Peak

CRISIS - Atmospheric CO2 Levels by Martina Igini Global Commons Oct 4th 20234 mins
Extreme Heat Persists Around the World As Scientists Warn El Niño Has Yet to Peak

Several countries including Austria, Japan, and New Zealand saw their hottest September on record, following what experts say was the hottest summer in history. 

Parts of the World See Hottest September in History

Scorching temperatures continued to bake parts of the world in September after summer 2023 shattered records and went down in history as the hottest the planet has ever seen.

Just after Texas just recorded its hottest September ever, meteorologists expect scorching heat to persist this week, with some US states expected to see temperatures as much as 25F above October averages. On Sunday, the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, cancelled its annual Twin Cities Marathon due to record-breaking heat, as temperatures were forecast to reach an unprecedented high of 91F (32.7C), far above the seasonal average of 66F (18.8C).

“The latest weather forecast update projects record-setting heat conditions that do not allow a safe event for runners, supporters and volunteers,” the organisers said in a statement.

Meanwhile, parts of Europe are still reeling from unprecedented September heat. On Sunday, Spain set a national heat record as temperatures surpassed 37.7C (100F), marking the hottest start of October since records began. On that day, almost 100 individual records had been beaten nationwide, according to Ruben del Campo, spokesperson of the country’s weather agency AEMET.

The agency also warned that temperatures this week will soar 10C above normal for this time of year, owing to a heat dome expected to develop over Western Europe. In southwest France, temperatures are expected to rise as high as 35C (95F).

Speaking to state broadcaster TVE, Del Campo explained the link between abnormal temperatures and global warming: “The footprint of climate change is manifested in the fact that such warm spells are now much more frequent and more intense,” he said.

Austria, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, and France have also experienced their hottest September on record. The latter saw temperatures between 3.5C and 3.6C above the norm for the 1991-2020 reference period, while both Germany and Belgium’s September temperatures were almost 4C higher than the norm for this time of the year.

The UK also saw average highs of 22C (71.6F), a significant increase compared to the previous record of 20.9C (69.6F) set in 1895.

On the other side of the world, Japan saw its hottest September in 125 years, with average temperatures 2.66C higher than usual. 101 of 153 observation stations across the country broke an average temperature record, including the capital Tokyo, which recorded an all-time high of 26.7C (80F).

2023 on Track to Be the Hottest Year in History

There is no doubt among the scientific community that global warming has led temperatures globally to hit record highs this year, a trend that is set to persist in the years to come, according to a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report published in May. The UN body found that there is a 98% chance that at least one of the next five years will be the hottest on record and a 66% chance of temporarily exceeding 1.5C above the 1850-1900 average for at least one of the five years.

But besides planet-warming greenhouse gases, experts are keeping a close eye on El Niño, a weather event associated with the warming of sea surface temperatures in the central-east equatorial Pacific that typically occurs every few years.

Earlier this year, experts had warned that its comeback this year is making it “very likely” that global average temperatures will exceed 1.5C of warming, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heatwaves, and result in food and water insecurity and poverty for millions of people worldwide.  

Prolonged heatwaves indicate that the phenomenon is far from over. Speaking with the Washington Post, Michael McPhaden, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said the El Niño is not set to peak until later this year. 

“There is plenty more heat waiting in the wings,” McPhaden said, adding that more records are expected to be broken in the coming months. 

According to the EU Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), 2023 could end up being the hottest year humanity has ever experienced.

“2023 is currently ranked as the second warmest, at only 0.01ºC behind 2016 with four months of the year remaining,” C3S Deputy Director Samantha Burgess said last month. “The scientific evidence is overwhelming – we will continue to see more climate records and more intense and frequent extreme weather events impacting society and ecosystems, until we stop emitting greenhouse gases.” 

You might also like: Antarctic Sea Ice Sets Record Low Maximum Extent By ‘Wide Margin’, New Analysis Shows

Tagged: heatwaves

About the Author

Martina Igini

Martina is the Managing Editor at Earth.Org. She holds two BA degrees, in Translation/Interpreting Studies and Journalism, and a MA in International Development from the University of Vienna. After working at the United Nations Global Communication Department in Vienna, she joined a newspaper in Italy as a reporter before moving to Hong Kong in 2020. Her interests include sustainability and the role of public policy in environmental protection with a focus on developing countries.

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