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World records full year of warming above 1.5 Celsius

February 8, 2024

Scientists have recorded an extended period of temperature significantly warmer than pre-industrial levels.

A herd of sheep walk over cracked earth at al-Massira dam in Ouled Essi Masseoud village, some 140 kilometres (85 miles) south from Morocco's economic capital Casablanca
Every month since June has been the world's hottest on recordImage: FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images

Global temperatures have risen above the internationally agreed warming threshold for a full 12-month period, according to figures published on Thursday by the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).

Climate change in 2023 was turbo-boosted by the natural El Nino phenomenon, making the year likely the hottest in 100,000 years.

What did the data show?

C3S said the period from February 2023 to January 2024 saw warming of 1.52 degrees Celsius higher than the 19th-century benchmark.

January was the eighth month in a row that the service recorded the warmest temperature on record for the respective month of the year.

It was the warmest January on record globally according to its parameters at 13.14 C, which is 0.7 degrees Celsius higher than the average for January in the past three decades.

Meanwhile, 2023 ranked as the planet's hottest year in global records going back to 1850, driven by human-caused climate change and the El Nino weather phenomenon that warms the surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

2023: Hottest year on record

What do the high temperatures mean?

Scientists say the 12-month figure is a serious indicator that the Paris climate deal's crucial 1.5 Celsius warming threshold might be breached, although that assessment will not be made until further down the road. 

Rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are the only way to curb the rise in global temperatures, according to C3S Deputy Director Samantha Burgess.

"2024 starts with another record-breaking month — not only is it the warmest January on record but we have also just experienced a 12-month period of more than 1.5°C above the pre-industrial reference period." 

COP28: What difference do 1.5 degrees make?

rc/kb (AFP, AP, Reuters)