July 2023 will likely be the hottest month in “hundreds, if not thousands, of years,” NASA chief climatologist Gavin Schmidt said on Thursday. And for the year 2024, the US space agency predicts even higher temperatures.
Measurement tools from the European Union (EU) and the University of Maine, in the United States, which combine data collected by satellites, planes, drones and ships to generate preliminary estimates, have pointed to daily heat records in recent weeks.
“We’re seeing unprecedented changes around the world. The heat waves we’re seeing in the US, Europe and China are breaking records,” Schmidt said at a news conference in Washington to release a summary of NASA’s latest weather observations.
While the estimates differ, the extreme heat trend is clear and likely to be reflected in the more robust monthly reports to be issued by US agencies, the climatologist said.
El Niño is just beginning
Schmidt also stressed that the effects cannot be attributed only to the El Niño climatic phenomenon, which, “actually, has just started”.
“What we’re seeing is general heat, pretty much everywhere, particularly in the oceans. We’ve seen record sea surface temperatures, even outside the tropics, for many months now,” he added.
The climatologist also warned of a likely maintenance of the upward trend, mainly due to the continuous release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Current weather phenomena also increase the likelihood that 2023 will be the hottest year on record. According to Schmidt’s calculations, the probability of this happening is 50%. He observes, however, that other scientists reach 80%.
A similar perspective is valid for next year: “We believe that 2024 will be an even warmer year, because we will start to feel the El Niño event that is starting now and should reach its peak at the end of this year.”