- As we all know, the year 2023 was extremely hot and the reason for this heat was attributed to the “El Nino” summer.
- However, in a recent interview, NASA’s senior climate scientist Gavin Schmidt expressed doubts that these temperatures are not just due to El Nino.
- Gavin Schmidt said 2023’s record-breaking temperatures have scientists alarmed and point to some “mysterious” new processes.
It’s no secret that human activities are warming the planet, causing more frequent, more intense weather events, and transforming ecosystems at an extraordinary pace. But NASA’s senior climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said 2023’s record-breaking temperatures still alarmed scientists and pointed to some “mysterious” new processes.
Excerpts from the interview with Schmidt are as follows:
Can you put the weather in 2023 into perspective?
This wasn’t just a record. It was a record that beat the previous record by a record margin. In the tropical Pacific, we started the year with the cold phenomenon La Niña, and this continued until March. In May, we started to see the development of El Nino, the warm phase of this cycle. This normally affects the following year’s temperatures. So it was supposed to affect the year 2024. But what we saw in 2023 was that global temperatures rose in a way that we have never seen before, driven by the El Niño event.
As we understand it, long-term trends are driven by greenhouse gases and anthropogenic impacts. We expect these temperatures to continue to increase until we stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which we have not yet achieved. However, the temperatures that manifested themselves in 2023 were above the expected increases, and this is a “plus thing”. The heat experienced in 2023 was much greater than we expected or could yet explain.
What are the leading hypotheses for this “something plus”?
Emails and conversations go on between scientists around the world who study this topic, and scientists say, “Let’s look at Earth’s energy imbalances. Let’s look at aerosols. Let’s look at El Nino. Let’s look at what’s happening in Antarctica, in the North Atlantic.” they say. Everyone has a lot of ideas, but many of them do not agree with each other.
El Nino may be a sufficient explanation for the extreme heat experienced in 2023. However, when I look at all the other El Niños we have experienced, I see that none of them have been felt this much. So, either this El Nino is really special, or the atmosphere is responding to this El Nino in a very special way, or something else is going on. No one can reduce these possibilities yet. This long-term trend is within the limits we have been predicting for years. But the details of what happens in 2023 are a bit of a mystery.
What should we expect for 2024?
At this point, it is important why 2023 is like this. Can it be said that the fact that this kind of heat occurred in 2023 means that it will continue? Or does what is happening mean that temperature effects will begin to accelerate? We don’t know, and that’s problematic.
2023 did not follow old patterns. If old patterns return and 2023 is just an explosion, then 2024 will be very close to 2023. If this is not a mistake, but something systematic that has changed or is changing, then we expect 2024 to be even warmer than 2023. Because while there is the heat we expect, there are also these extreme heats experienced in 2023. Last year’s weather, heatwaves, heavy rainfall and coastal flooding will have an impact on everything else we can expect this year.
Compiled by: Fatma Ebrar Tuncel