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2024 is expected to exceed the 1.5°C warming limit

Next year is poised to mark a troubling milestone in the annals of climate history, according to forecasts from the Met Office

The modeling anticipates that 2024 might become the first year in human history to surpass the critical 2.7°F (1.5°C) warming threshold outlined in the Paris Agreement, a level deemed as the potential point of irreversibility for climate change. 

Record-breaking high

Despite 2023 on track to become the hottest year on record, projections for 2024 already indicate a new record-breaking high. The Met Office attributes these scorching temperatures to a combination of climate change and a substantial El Niño event.

Scientists estimate that temperatures in the upcoming year will range between 2.41°F (1.34°C) and 2.84°F (1.58°C) above the pre-industrial average. 

“The forecast is in line with the ongoing global warming trend of 0.2°C [0.36°F] per decade, and is boosted by a significant El Niño event. We expect two new global temperature record-breaking years in succession, and, for the first time, we are forecasting a reasonable chance of a year temporarily exceeding 1.5°C [2.7°F],” said Nick Dunstone, an expert in Climate Science at the Met Office.

Perilous tipping point

Since 2015, nations committed to preventing global temperatures from rising beyond 2.7°F (1.5°C), a threshold signifying a perilous tipping point. Although a single temporary breach of this limit wouldn’t technically violate the Paris Agreement, it would nevertheless be a noteworthy event in climate history.

The temperature rise in the coming year will be influenced by factors beyond human-induced climate change. Notably, a significant El Niño event is expected to temporarily elevate average temperatures. 

El Niño is characterized by a redistribution of warm water in the Pacific Ocean, resulting in weaker winds and warmer seas for a brief period. 

Contributing factors

Professor Adam Scaife from the Met Office underscores additional contributors to the temperature extremes, such as anomalous high temperatures in the North Atlantic and Southern Ocean, emphasizing the synergy with climate change.

While natural temperature fluctuations occur, subsequent years are unlikely to breach the 2.7°F (1.5°C) limit. Nevertheless, Professor Scaife argues that human-induced climate change remains the predominant factor driving record-breaking temperatures. 

This prediction follows a series of unprecedented weather events, with 2023 poised to become the hottest year on record, exceeding initial temperature predictions made by the Met Office at the close of 2022.

Why is the 1.5°C limit so critical?

Surpassing the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit could have severe consequences for the planet. It’s a complex situation where even a slight increase beyond 1.5 degrees could have wide-ranging and potentially irreversible impacts.

Extreme weather

More frequent and severe weather events like hurricanes, heatwaves, droughts, and floods.

Rising sea levels

Melting polar ice caps and glaciers would contribute to higher sea levels, threatening coastal areas and islands.

Ecosystem disruptions

Altered habitats could endanger many species and disrupt ecosystems. Coral reefs, in particular, are at risk.

Agricultural impact

Changes in climate patterns could affect crop yields, leading to food scarcity and higher prices.

Health risks

Increased temperatures and changing weather patterns can exacerbate health issues, including heat-related illnesses and the spread of infectious diseases.

Economic consequences

Damage from extreme weather, changes in agricultural productivity, and health impacts could have enormous economic costs.

Geopolitical effects

Climate-induced migration and resource scarcity might lead to social unrest and geopolitical tensions.


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