Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Tech & Science

Strange weather: Last year’s climate assessment makes for grim reading

Other climatic disasters of 2023 were linked to unusually strong cyclones bringing extreme rainfall to New Zealand, Mozambique and Malawi, Myanmar, Greece, Libya and Australia. The longest-lived cyclone ever recorded battered southeastern Africa for weeks.

Powerful waves driven by Cyclone Freddy crashed into the shoreline near the village of Sainte-Anne, on the French overseas island of La Reunion
Powerful waves driven by Cyclone Freddy crashed into the shoreline near the village of Sainte-Anne, on the French overseas island of La Reunion - Copyright AFP/File Charism SAYAT
Powerful waves driven by Cyclone Freddy crashed into the shoreline near the village of Sainte-Anne, on the French overseas island of La Reunion - Copyright AFP/File Charism SAYAT

Record heat in 2023 together with worsened global droughts, floods and wildfires characterized a worsening climate situation. Just as concerning, 2024 looks like being the same or even hotter. This made 2023 the Earth’s hottest year on record, showing us, alarmingly, what a typical future year with 1.5 degrees warming may look like.

In addition, relative air humidity over the global land surface in 2023 was the second driest on record after 2021, continuing a trend towards drier and more extreme conditions. These patterns have occurred amongst a continued global reliance upon fossil fuels.

The bleak assessment relating to global heating and other forms of climate change comes from the Australian National University. Academics have analyzed considerable quantities of data, drawn from thousands of ground stations and satellites orbiting the Earth, to reveal that record levels of heat across the world profoundly impacted the global water cycle in 2023. In turn, this contributed to severe storms, floods, megadroughts and bushfires.

Globally, there has been an increase in the frequency and intensity of rainfall events and river flooding. At the same time, in other regions, there are also more frequent and faster developing droughts, or so-termed ‘flash droughts’. These droughts cause crop failure and destructive wildfires in a matter of weeks or months.

The findings are outlined in a new report released this month by the Global Water Monitor Consortium and led by Australian National University researchers. The report underscores the consequences of persistent fossil fuel burning on natural disasters, water resources, biodiversity and food security.

Heat waves broke previous records in many countries, including Canada, Brazil, Spain and Thailand. A total of 77 countries experienced their highest average annual temperature in at least 45 years.

Furthermore, the lack of rainfall and high temperatures exacerbated multi-year droughts in South America, the Horn of Africa and around the Mediterranean.

The hot and dry conditions also inflicted extensive ecological damage on the world’s largest forests. Massive wildfires ravaged Canada during the northern summer, while the Amazon rainforest and rivers rapidly descended into severe drought in late 2023.

Other climatic disasters of 2023 were linked to unusually strong cyclones bringing extreme rainfall to New Zealand, Mozambique and Malawi, Myanmar, Greece, Libya and Australia. The longest-lived cyclone ever recorded battered southeastern Africa for weeks.

One of the main patterns identified relates to rising sea surface and air temperatures, caused by fossil fuel burning, and these have been intensifying the strength and rainfall intensity of monsoons, cyclones and other storm systems.

As to 2024 and beyond, the researchers are predicting warmer sea temperatures. This matches the trend of the last two decades, which have seen increased air temperatures and declining air humidity, causing increased heat stress and water requirements for people, crops and ecosystems, while intensifying droughts.

Avatar photo
Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

You may also like:

Tech & Science

A mind-boggling number of shining galaxies, a purple and orange star nursery and a spiral galaxy similar to our Milky Way: new images were...

Business

The US Department of Justice filed a major antitrust lawsuit Thursday seeking to break up an alleged monopoly in the live music industry.

Sports

For those seeking to snap up a ticket, it is important to know how to spot fake tickets, verify sellers, and safeguard the purchase.

World

Mourners attend the funeral of Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran - Copyright AFP ATTA KENAREIran’s president Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a...