Scientists are predicting that 2024 will have record-breaking heat

2023 saw history-making record high temperatures, and this year is set to be even hotter.

Scientists are predicting that 2024 will have record-breaking heat
A man walks on the cracked ground of the Baells reservoir as drinking water supplies have plunged to their lowest level since 1990 due to extreme drought in Catalonia, in the village of Cersc, in the region Bergueda, Spain March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Nacho Doce/File Photo

The backstory: To stop the worsening and potentially irreversible effects of climate change, the global average temperature shouldn’t go over the temperatures from preindustrial times by more than 1.5 C – this is a threshold agreed upon by the international community and also established in the Paris Agreement in 2015. But 2023 was hot. Very, very hot. In fact, it was the hottest year on record, and many of us aren’t surprised since there was just so much weather and climate change coverage for most of last year. But brace yourselves because there’s about to be a lot more heat and weather talk coming up. 

The development: The EU Copernicus Climate Change Service, for example, released data recently saying that it accurately predicted that 2023 would be scorchingly hot, with deadly heat waves across China, North America and Europe. But it also made a worrying forecast that Earth will soon likely pass that critical threshold set to prevent more drastic climate change. According to the service, last year, every month from June to December saw higher temps compared to the same months in previous years. On top of that, July and August were the two warmest months on record. Overall, 2023 was the hottest year since climate data started being recorded, going back to 1850, beating the previous record of 2016 – by a lot.

Now, the service is predicting that the last 12-month period ending in January or February of this year is expected to exceed 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. The UK’s Met Office is also expecting this year to be hotter than the last. 

Now, it may sound like all is doom and gloom, but the reality is that hope isn’t lost. We can do our part today to push for more structural change, whether that’s reassessing our transportation habits and dietary choices – there’s an opportunity for the world to reduce up to 70% of end-use emissions by 2050, and this can happen in the short term as well, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC released in 2022.  

Key comments: 

"2023 was an exceptional year with climate records tumbling like dominoes. 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,” said Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service.  

“We knew, thanks to the work of the Copernicus Programme throughout 2023, that we would not receive good news today. But the annual data presented here provides yet more evidence of the increasing impacts of climate change. The European Union, in line with the best available science, has agreed on an emission reduction of 55% by 2030 – now just 6 years away. The challenge is clear. The Copernicus Programme, managed by the European Commission, is one the best tools available to guide our climate actions, keep us on track with the goals of the Paris Agreement and accelerate the green transition,” said Mauro Facchini, Head of Earth Observation at the Directorate General for Defence Industry and Space, European Commission.