Weirdly Warm Winter Has Climate Fingerprints All Over It, Study Says

Weirdly Warm Winter Has Climate Fingerprints All Over It, Study Says

Winter temperatures have taken a startling turn for much of the world’s population, with many areas experiencing unusually warm conditions, driven primarily by the combustion of fossil fuels, according to recent temperature data analysis from various locations worldwide.

The European Union’s climate monitoring organization, Copernicus, reported that February marked the hottest on record globally, extending a streak of nine consecutive months of record-breaking temperatures. Furthermore, ocean temperatures reached unprecedented levels in February, setting a new high for any time of the year.

An independent research group, Climate Central, conducted an analysis examining temperature anomalies during December and January in 678 cities worldwide. They aimed to discern the influence of climate change on these unusual temperatures, separate from natural weather variability.

In several cities across North America, Europe, and Asia, the impact of climate change on the abnormally warm winter was discernible. Notably, cities in the Midwestern United States experienced exceptionally warm winters, with Minneapolis and Tehran being standout examples, with climate change’s fingerprints detected for a significant portion of the winter season.

Milan’s winter temperatures were notably elevated, with a detectable climate change signal observed over a considerable number of days. Conversely, in some regions, though individual days may have been significantly warmer, overall winter temperatures did not deviate significantly, resulting in a less pronounced climate signal.

The report from Climate Central highlighted that approximately 4.8 billion people worldwide encountered at least one day of temperatures influenced by carbon pollution, emphasizing the widespread impact of climate change on winter weather patterns.

Amidst other global crises, such as conflicts in Ukraine, cities across various regions experienced warmer-than-average winters, with climate change’s role evident. This trend was observed in several cities in the tropical belt as well, where the climate signal was more apparent despite relatively modest temperature increases.

Globally, February 2024 marked the warmest February on record, with temperatures surpassing the average from the preindustrial era by a significant margin. This extends a streak of record-breaking temperatures over the past nine months, indicating a persistent trend of warming.

While these temperature records are concerning, they do not necessarily indicate that the international Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels has been surpassed. However, the consistent trend of record-breaking temperatures underscores the urgency of addressing climate change.

In the short term, ocean temperatures have been particularly noteworthy, with February seeing the warmest sea-surface temperatures on record for any month, highlighting the profound impact of climate change on Earth’s oceans.