Wildfires in Canada. Heat waves in Siberia. Record low sea ice in Antarctica. And summer is just getting started.
It may not have come for us here in NYC just yet…but there’s every reason to believe it will. Global temperatures have been unusually high for this time of year, and scientists believe that the main factors driving what could become a multiyear phenomenon: the El Niño weather pattern that emerges approximately every 2-7 years on average, and the continuing emission of greenhouse gases due to human activities.
This could be the start of a multiyear period of higher-than-normal temperatures around the world, with potentially dire consequences for the most vulnerable. Since the last El Niño three years ago, ever-more emissions have continued to be pumped into the atmosphere, which can compound the natural warming effect.
And while normally, El Niño years are associated with less severe Atlantic hurricane seasons, the additional warming could result in more and stronger storms. The compounding factors are also making hurricanes more difficult for meteorologists to predict.
There’s another factor that could also have made the world hotter recently, though it’s not clear how much. In January 2022, a volcanic eruption beneath the Pacific archipelago nation of Tonga blasted a huge amount of vaporized seawater into the atmosphere: at least 55 million tons, according to research published last year. Like carbon dioxide, water vapor is a greenhouse gas: It traps heat near Earth’s surface. The plume from last year’s eruption may have increased the amount of water in the global stratosphere by more than 5 percent, the researchers said.
You can read more about this on the Guardian website here.