Climate predictions for 2024
By Bella Coco, Staff Writer
Last year set a lot of records. One of the most alarming records by far was the highest global temperature since global records began. However, what could this mean for 2024 and what does that mean for the Calgary climate landscape?
We can start with what we already know. Since 1850, 2023 was the warmest year ever recorded. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, the global ocean temperatures in 2023 from April to December also hit record warm temperatures. 2016—the previous hottest year on record—has officially been knocked down to second place, with a global-average temperature of 14.81°C, 0.17°C less than 2023’s average of 14.98°C.
One of the biggest reasons for the year-to-year increase in global temperature was the 2020-22 transition from La Niña to El Niño conditions in 2023. La Niña refers to conditions that are cooler than normal (some refer to it as “the cold event”), and El Niño is the opposite. In Canada, the transition into El Niño conditions typically mean drier and warmer winters. While the El Niño transition began in 2023, temperatures began to rise. The El Niño conditions are expected to continue (and stay strong) until March 2024.
However, El Niño is not the only reason why 2023 was a remarkably hot year. According to NASA, climate change is here. We are currently experiencing and living through climate change, and this presents challenges. We can attribute accelerating sea levels, rising temperatures, and more intense heat waves to human-driven climate change.
Vox’s series on climate change and the climate crisis touched on how with 2023’s record breaking temperature, the average temperatures have risen over 1.5°C. The reason why the increase past 1.5°C is significant is because of a limit established during the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. There was an agreement to hold the warming limit to 1.5°C, which has now been surpassed.
Events such as El Niño naturally cause higher temperatures, and contribute to the warming limit, but climate activists have pushed for what Vox calls “climate diplomacy.” The UN has stated that the world has done “too far too little”, and that time is not on the planet’s side.
What does this mean for 2024?
First off, it means climate activists and those residing in countries that are vulnerable to rising sea levels are going to continue to put pressure on world leaders and corporations to stick to environmental-related goals.
According to Bloomberg, scientists have predicted that 2024 could be even hotter than 2023, and that climate change will be the top culprit. With the record-high ocean temperatures from 2023, it could take months for the heat to be released. Fossil fuels will still contribute to the stifling levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, and will further the global temperature rise.
However, climate trends are known to change (just think of your poor local weather reporter), and can be extremely difficult to predict.
“The fact that we are in uncharted territory, we don’t actually know what will happen next,” Carlo Buontempo, director of the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, told the Washington Post.
While it may be unclear what the exact climate predictions may be, it is incredibly clear that climate change has led to an increase in temperature over the years. There is the grim prediction that 2024 will bring temperatures hot enough to heavily exceed the 1.5°C temperature limit, and El Niño will heavily influence and increase the oceanic temperatures.
What does this mean for Calgary?
Calgarians have already seen the effects of El Niño with a dry and tame 2023 winter, and unbelievably sweltering 2023 summer. Despite the yearly cold snap Calgary tends to face in the months of January and February, temperatures are expected to gradually increase in the spring of 2024.
Extremely high temperatures can lead to more natural disasters, and in the Calgary area, people can expect higher chances of floods, high winds, hail, and aggressive thunderstorms. In northern Alberta, there is a higher chance of wildfires and tornadoes in rural areas.