Global temperature streak continues with record hot April

The record heat in April recorded by the EU's Copernicus was blamed on climate change and the lingering impact of the El Nino weather pattern.

FILE - James Tshuma, a farmer in Mangwe district in southwestern Zimbabwe, stands in the middle of his dried up crop field amid a drought, in Zimbabwe, Friday, March, 22, 2024. Zimbabwe declared a state of disaster Wednesday, April 3, 2024, over a devastating drought that's sweeping across much of southern Africa, with the country...s president saying it needs $2 billion for humanitarian assistance. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)
Image: Drought devastated crops in Zimbabwe in April. Pic: AP
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April was the hottest month on record and the eleventh consecutive month of record heat, according to new data.

The EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service found April 2024 was globally warmer than any previous April dating back to 1940.

It was also 1.58C warmer than the estimated average for pre-industrial levels.

Last month's hot temperatures fuelled an ongoing drought in southern Africa, threatening food supplies and energy production.

It follows a string of record hot months, starting from the hottest June on record last year.

High temperatures persisted even though the warming El Nino weather pattern is subsiding, with heat remaining in ocean air temperatures.

But they were also fuelled by the greenhouse gas emissions humans continue to release into the atmosphere, scientists said.

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Copernicus director Carlo Buontempo said: "El Nino peaked at the beginning of the year and the sea surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific are now going back towards neutral conditions.

"However, whilst temperature variations associated with natural cycles like El Nino come and go, the extra energy trapped into the ocean and the atmosphere by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases will keep pushing the global temperature towards new records."

Scientists are particularly worried about the intense heat building in the oceans, which should help to soak up extra heat and carbon dioxide.

Daily sea surface temperatures from 1979 to 2024. Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.
Image: Daily sea surface temperatures from 1979 to 2024. Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.
Anomalies and extremes in sea surface temperature percentiles in April 2024. Colour categories refer to the percentiles of the temperature distributions for the 1991–2020 reference period. The extreme (“Coolest” and “Warmest”) categories refer to the period 1979–2024. Values are only calculated for the ice-free oceans. Areas covered with sea ice and ice shelves in April 2024 are shown in light grey. Data source: ERA5. Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.
Image: Anomalies and extremes in sea surface temperature percentiles in April 2024. Colour categories refer to the percentiles of the temperature distributions for the 1991–2020 reference period. The extreme (“Coolest” and “Warmest”) categories refer to the

Global warming has added roughly 1.25C to global average temperatures since pre-industrial times, and El Nino add can add around an extra quarter of a degree on top of that.

As temperatures soared last year, the world recorded a "large number of extreme events" including heatwaves, floods, droughts and wildfires, Copernicus has said previously.

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Europe faces 'more intense' weather

Myles Allen, geosystem science professor at Oxford University, called the ongoing warming from carbon dioxide emissions "depressingly predictable".

"When you have warming impact of El Nino, it doesn't go down straight away," he told Sky News.

"But undoubtedly, climate change is driving the underlying warming."

While warming from carbon dioxide has accelerated, it is only in line with what scientists predicted, he said.

"The world is warming at roughly 0.25C per decade, up from the way it was warming 25 years ago, when it more like 0.2 per decade."

"But we know why, because emissions are up. And on top of that, we've got warming due to El Nino."

He added: "If we reduce emissions to zero, warming will stop".

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