Concerns arise as March registers record heat, signaling unexplored climate territory

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Climate change could enter “uncharted territory” if temperatures fail to decrease by the year’s end, warns a top scientist.

The cautionary note comes as data reveals March as the warmest on record, extending a streak of 10 consecutive months of temperature records.

The ongoing warmth, attributed in part to the El Niño weather system, has raised concerns about a potential acceleration of climate change.

Although temperatures are expected to temporarily ease as El Niño dissipates, scientists fear the possibility of sustained record-breaking heat.

“If we’re still seeing unprecedented temperatures by summer’s end, then we’ve truly entered uncharted waters,” says Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

March 2024 was 1.68C warmer than pre-industrial levels, according to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

While longer-term warming trends align with expectations, the abrupt warmth in late 2023 has left scientists puzzled.

The root cause, which can’t be solely attributed to El Niño, raises uncertainties about future climate projections.

“We’re still grappling with why the situation changed so drastically last year, and whether it’s a long-term shift or a temporary anomaly,” says Dr Samantha Burgess from Copernicus.

As El Niño fades, a transition to a La Niña cool phase is anticipated, potentially bringing a brief dip in global temperatures. However, the extent of this cooling remains uncertain.

While scientists emphasize the importance of swiftly reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate impacts, they underscore the urgency of action to prevent 2023 from becoming the new norm.

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