The extreme temperatures across continents are no surprise, say NASA’s top scientists. They believe there’s a “50-50 chance” that 2023 will be the hottest year on record, with next year likely even warmer.
July of 2023 is likely to be the warmest month on record in “hundreds, if not thousands, of years,” said NASA’s top scientists in a roundtable with reporters, warning that the heat is only going to get worse.
“We are seeing unprecedented changes all over the world. The heatwaves that we are seeing in the US, in Europe, China, and demolishing records left, right and center. This is not a surprise,” said Gavin Schmidt, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
June of 2023 was already the hottest June on record and July is likely to be the hottest month overall. “We know from science is that human activity, principally greenhouse gas emissions, are unequivocally causing the warming we are seeing on our planet,” Kate Calvin, NASA chief scientist and senior climate adviser, said at the same briefing.
Just the beginning
NASA’s scientists clarified that data collected and analyzed by the institute had already pointed towards this. “There has been a decade-on-decade increase in temperatures throughout the last four decades,” Schmidt said.
The US space agency last saw such a spike in temperatures in July and August of 2016 due to a super El Nino event in the winter of 2015-2016. While there is another such event currently in the works: “We haven’t gotten there with the current El Nino event,” Schmidt said. He added that it has “only just emerged.”
The heatwaves seen at present are due to an overall warmth across the world, particularly in the oceans.
“We’ve been seeing record-breaking sea surface temperatures, even outside of the tropics, for many months now. And we will anticipate that is going to continue, and the reason why we think that’s going to continue, is because we continue to put greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere,” Schmidt said.
The top scientist assigned a “50-50 chance” that 2023 will be the hottest year on record, only to be beaten by 2024, which is expected to be even warmer because of the ascendant El Nino. Other scientists assigned an 80% chance of 2023 being the warmest in the books.