Summer 2023 was the Hottest Recorded in 2,000 Years

heatwave

Last summer's scorching temperatures not only made headlines for their intensity but also etched a new chapter in climatic history, marking the hottest season in some 2,000 years, according to recent research findings.

The revelation comes as a result of two new studies unveiled on Tuesday, shedding light on the unprecedented warmth experienced across the northern hemisphere, which fuelled devastating wildfires, infrastructure damage, and energy strains in various parts of the globe.

Initially declared the warmest summer since modern record-keeping began in the 1940s, the latest research published in the journal Nature delves deeper into historical climate patterns. By analysing meteorological records dating back to the mid-1800s and examining temperature data extracted from tree rings across nine northern sites, scientists revealed a remarkable truth: last year's summer surpassed temperatures not witnessed in millennia.

Jan Esper, a climate scientist at Johannes Gutenberg University and co-author of the study, emphasised the significance of this finding in highlighting the severity of contemporary global warming. The study indicated that summer temperatures in 2023, spanning lands between 30 and 90 degrees north latitude, soared approximately 2.07 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages.

Researchers uncovered that the average summer temperatures in 2023 surpassed those of the period spanning from year 1 to 1890 by approximately 2.2 degrees Celsius.

While predictions had hinted at the likelihood of 2023 being one of the warmest years in thousands of years, proving such an extensive record remains a challenge. Esper cautioned against overstatements, noting the limitations of current scientific methodologies in establishing year-by-year comparisons over such vast timescales.

The surge in summer temperatures last year was compounded by the El Niño climate pattern, known to coincide with elevated global temperatures, exacerbating heatwaves and drought conditions.

The repercussions of extreme heat are far-reaching, taking a heavy toll on human health. A parallel study published in the journal PLOS Medicine revealed that more than 150,000 heat-related deaths occurred annually across 43 countries between 1990 and 2019, accounting for approximately 1% of global deaths—a figure on par with the toll of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

With over half of these excess deaths concentrated in populous Asian regions, Europe faced the highest per capita toll, with Greece, Malta, and Italy registering the highest number of heat-related fatalities within the continent. Such extreme temperatures can trigger a range of health complications, including cardiovascular issues, respiratory difficulties, and heatstroke.

(Source: Reuters)

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