2023 hottest year on record —by 'alarming' margin

The year 2023 is officially the warmest on record—overtaking 2016, the previous warmest year, by an alarming margin. According to the latest data from the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service, released Jan. 9, Earth was 1.48 degrees Celsius (2.66 Fahrenheit) hotter last year compared with pre-industrial levels—dangerously close to the 1.5-degree threshold set by the Paris climate deal. 2023 also marked the first year in which each day was over one degree warmer than the pre-industrial average. Temperatures over 2023 likely exceeded those of any year over the past 100,000 years, the report found. This was partially due to the year's El Niño climate phenomenon, but those impacts only began in June—and every subsequent month last year was the warmest on record for that particular month. September represented the largest climatological departure since record-keeping began over 170 years ago.

Extremely anomalous ocean heat content was also recorded last year. Normally, maximum ocean temperature is in March, at the end of the southern hemisphere summer. Instead, last year saw continued warming of the ocean surface from April right through to year's end, with record temperatures for all of those months. (PRI, PBS NewsHour, EuroNews, The Hill)

Dire climate anomalies from Chile to Mongolia

Impacts of last year's "super" El Niño event, with unusually high temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, are still being felt. One of the consequences has been less rain in South America, drying out the land which recently ignited into massive wildfires. Chile has been one of the worst-affected countries, where the blazes left over 130 people dead and hundreds missing. The UN has called for increased global investment in fire prevention.

Meanwhile in Mongolia, a phenomenon of summer drought followed by bitter winter conditions—known as a dzud—has affected almost 300,000 families, with many losing their livestock, and warnings of worse to come as temperatures hover at record lows and pastures remain impossible to graze. (TNH)

Air quality in parts of West Africa has suddenly worsened

November to March in West Africa is the harmattan season, which typically brings dry weather and high winds to the region. The dust that blows in from the Sahara this year contains dangerous particulate matter. As a result, Accra, the capital of Ghana, now has some of the poorest air quality in the world. This appears related to regional aridification and expansion of the desert. (PRI)