NASA Director On 2023 As Hottest Year Ever: Way-Worse Than, ‘Oh My Gosh, Another Warm Year’

January 13, 2024

A wet-gray and cold late-afternoon Saturday here in California’s Central Valley. Although kind of nasty outside, it’s nothing compared to a giant chunk of the US right now, from super-freezing snow storms in the midwest to tornadoes in the south — the weather’s shitty all over.

Americans seem aware that despite the winter conditions, climate change is a real and happening event, at least according to a substantial report on a nationally representative survey last fall (Climate Change in the American Mind) conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, which indicated those who know climate change is real outnumber deniers nearly 5 to 1 (72 percent versus 15 percent).

And from that report of the perceived risks of a warming world: ‘Many Americans (43 percent) agree with the statement “I have personally experienced the effects of global warming,” although a majority of Americans (56 percent) disagree … Just under half of Americans (46 percent) think people in the U.S. are being harmed by global warming “right now.”

Mainly because it really is ‘now’ and not down the road:

Notwithstanding the cold outside, last year was unrivaled (Scientific American): ‘“After seeing the 2023 climate analysis, I have to pause and say that the findings are astounding,” said NOAA chief scientist Sarah Kapnick in a statement from the agency. “Not only was 2023 the warmest year in NOAA’s 174-year climate record—it was the warmest by far.”

Further details via the Guardian from yesterday:

Last year was the hottest ever reliably recorded globally by a blistering margin, US scientists have confirmed, leaving researchers struggling to account for the severity of the heat and what it portends for the unfolding climate crisis.

Last year was the world’s hottest in records that stretch back to 1850, according to analyses released concurrently by Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) on Friday, with a record high in ocean temperatures and a new low in Antarctic sea ice extent.

Noaa calculated that last year’s global temperature was 1.35C (2.4F) hotter, on average, than the pre-industrial era, which is slightly less than the 1.48C (2.6F) increase that EU scientists, who also found 2023 was the hottest on record, came up with due to slightly different methodologies.

A separate analysis of 2023 released on Friday by Berkeley Earth has the year at 1.54C above pre-industrial times, which is above the 1.5C (2.7F) warming limit that countries have agreed to keep to in order to avoid disastrous global heating impacts. This guardrail will need to be broken on a consistent basis, rather than one year, to be considered fully breached, however.

The burning of fossil fuels and deforestation has driven the extraordinary warmth, which follows a string of hotter-than-average years in recent decades. Each decade over the past 40 years has been warmer than the last, Noaa said, with the most recent 10 years all making up the hottest 10 years ever recorded. Last year’s record heat was further spurred by El Niño, a periodic climatic event that heats up parts of the Pacific Ocean and heightens global temperatures.

However, even with these known factors scientists were left stunned at the severity of 2023, which was initially following the expected long-term warming pattern before seeing record after record obliterated in the second half of the year. Last year beat the previous temperature record, set in 2016, by 0.15C (0.27F), Noaa said, which is a huge margin in climate terms.

“What we’ve seen with 2023 is off the charts,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

“We are having a real hard time explaining why 2023 was as warm as it was. What happened last year was unprecedented and it’s a concern. This is the first year I’ve been doing this where I’m far less sanguine about my ability to explain what’s happening.”

“After seeing the 2023 climate analysis, I have to pause and say that the findings are astounding,” added Sarah Kapnick, Noaa’s chief scientist.

Schmidt said that further research, and the outcome of following years, will need to be assessed to see if there are other major factors at play but that the uncertainty was disconcerting. “I am discomfited by the findings beyond just, ‘Oh my gosh, another warm year,’” he said.

He added that 2024 has a “50-50” chance of being the hottest on record, due to a peaking El Niño and that the likelihood of staying within 1.5C warming, which scientists have said is important to avoid catastrophic heatwaves, floods, droughts and other calamities, “has shrunk to almost nothing”.

“We are making the kind of geological mark on the planet that perhaps only cyanobacteria have managed before,” said Schmidt. “That’s a big deal. The biggest driver that has changed our climate is the emissions of greenhouse gases and it’s very important to realize the long-term trends are caused by our activities.”

Across the board:

Additional shitty shit from Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Copernicus, the European Union’s climate agency: ‘“Not only is 2023 the warmest year on record, it is also the first year with all days over 1°C warmer than the pre-industrial period … Temperatures during 2023 likely exceed those of any period in at least the last 100,000 years.”

And onward we go — beyond CGI and into reality:

Hot enough for you, or not, yet once again here we are…

(Illustration out front found here.)

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