Record-breaking Temperatures and Rising Emissions: The Link between Polluting Gases and Global Warming

2023-09-07 15:27:14
The emissions of polluting gases are behind the increases in temperatures. Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and areas of central and northern Argentina registered above average temperatures last August (Illustrative image Infobae)

In 2023, a new and unfortunate record was broken in terms of Earth temperatures. The three hottest months in its history have just been recorded, as reported by the World Meteorological Organization and the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

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Last August was the second hottest month in history, and was behind July 2023. The average global temperature of the planet was 16.82 degrees. This means that it was around 1.5 degrees warmer than the pre-industrial period (1850-1900). The analysis was carried out by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), funded by the European Union.

During August, heat waves occurred in multiple regions of the Northern Hemisphere, including southern Europe, the southern United States, and Japan. But also in the southern hemisphere abnormal temperatures were felt for the winter season.

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In it bulletin published, it was reported that in several South American countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay, and much of Antarctica, temperatures were well above average.

The 10 warmest months on record across the planet (graphic: Marcelo Regalado)

“Brazil recorded temperatures close to 42°C and, at times, 19 of its 26 states suffered from heat waves,” the Copernicus experts clarified. Bolivia, Paraguay and areas of central and northern Argentina also recorded temperatures above average. For example, in Tartagal, in the Argentine province of Salta, 40.2 degrees were recorded on August 22, a day in the middle of winter.

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Australia was also above average overall, recording the second warmest national average temperature on record for August (since 1910). Sydney reflected the warm conditions by recording its warmest winter day (27.5°C) in eight years.

The weather experts also went beyond looking at three months and compared the current year to previous ones. The year 2023 (from January to August) is the second warmest on record, behind 2016, when a powerful El Niño phenomenon occurred.

“Climate collapse has begun. Scientists have long been warning about what our addiction to fossil fuels will trigger,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said this week (infographic: Marcelo Regalado)

Another El Niño event is also developing this year: temperatures rise in the central and eastern part of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, then coupled with changes in the atmosphere. It can have repercussions such as more rains and floods in some areas of the planet and droughts in others.

In 2023, the El Niño phenomenon began to develop again. It is expected to be at least moderate in intensity, according to the World Meteorological Organization/NASA/JPL-Caltech.

After the news broke about the temperature records for June, July and August, the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, came out to make a strong call for attention.

“Our planet has just endured a simmering season: the hottest summer on record. The climate collapse has begun. Scientists have long been warning about what our addiction to fossil fuels will trigger,” the official said.

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The burning of fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal, is the main factor behind the polluting emissions of greenhouse gases that have caused the increase in the planet’s average temperatures.

“Rising temperatures demand that action be taken. Leaders must accelerate the search for climate solutions. We can still avoid the worst of climate chaos, and we don’t have a moment to lose,” Guterres warned.

“Eight months after 2023, we are so far experiencing the second warmest year to date, only fractionally colder than 2016, with August estimated to have been around 1.5 degrees warmer than pre-industrial levels. What we are seeing, not just new extremes but the persistence of these record-breaking conditions, and the impacts they have on both people and the planet, are a clear consequence of the warming of the climate system,” said Carlo Buontempo, Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Average sea surface temperatures were also at record highs during August/File

To the average air temperatures, it was also added that the oceans also have a “fever”, according to the WMO: the average temperatures of the sea surface were at all-time highs.

Oceanographers associated with the World Climate Research Programme, co-sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), made an assessment of recent global trends and what to expect in the future. Among other things, basin-wide warming of the ocean and an increase in marine heat waves have been observed.

The agency noted that marine heat waves occur when the temperature of the oceans in a given region is well above average for an extended period. Rising ocean temperatures affect the marine environment and associated ecosystems, and ocean heat can also drive the development of tropical cyclones.

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The monthly average temperature of the oceans is currently at its highest level since the beginning of records, with 27% of the world ocean experiencing a marine heat wave as of August 15, 2023.

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