July 2023 will likely be the hottest in “hundreds, if not thousands of years” across the globe, NASA’s chief climatologist said Thursday. Several heat records have already been shattered in July, according to two tools from the European Union and the University of Maine in the United States, which combine ground and satellite data to create models generating preliminary estimates.
While the two tools differ slightly from each other, the rising temperature trends are unmistakable and will likely be reflected in future monthly reports from U.S. agencies, with more consolidated data, Gavin Schmidt, NASA’s chief climatologist, said in an exchange with reporters.
Wednesday, the European Copernicus observatory had already warned that the world was on course for its hottest July since measurements began, following an already record-breaking June.
Weak role of El Niño
“We are seeing unprecedented changes across the world,” said Gavin Schmidt. “Heat waves in UNITED STATESin Europeand in China break records. Especially since they cannot be attributed solely to the El Niño phenomenon, “which has only just happened”.
El Niño is a cyclical weather phenomenon that originates in thePacific Ocean and leads to an increase in global temperatures, accompanied by droughts in some parts of the world and heavy rains in others.
Although El Niño plays a small role in current observations, “we’ve seen sea surface temperature records broken, even outside the tropics, for several months now,” said Gavin Schmidt. “And we expect that to continue,” added the climatologist, “because we continue to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”
2023, the hottest year on record?
Current phenomena increase the likelihood that 2023 will be the hottest year on record. Such a probability is currently “50-50” according to the calculations of Gavin Schmidt. But other scientists suggest a probability of up to 80%, he said.
“We expect 2024 to be an even warmer year, as we will start it with the El Niño phenomenon which is building up at the moment, and which will peak towards the end of this year,” said Gavin Schmidt.