08 May 2024

April was the hottest April on record globally, surpassing all previous records

According to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (CS3) datasets, global April 2024 surface air temperatures of 15.03°C has been recorded, which is 0.67 °C above the 1991-2020 average for April and 0.14°C above the previous high set in April 2016. This adds to the alarming trend of continuous 11 months of record-breaking high temperatures in a year. The global average temperature for the past 12 months, April 2023 to May 2024 is the highest on record, which is 0.73°C above the 1991-2020 average.  


For Europe, April 2024 was the second warmest April on record, with an average temperature 1.49°C higher than the average for April from 1991 to 2020. The temperatures in Eastern regions of Europe were mostly above average throughout April. Similarly, in other global continents such as northern and northeastern North America, Greenland, eastern Asia, northwest Middle East, parts of South America, and most of Africa, higher than average temperatures were recorded. 


Such unusually high temperatures are a sounding board and scientific proof that we need urgent climate action to protect vulnerable communities from heat stress and mortality. The high temperatures are attributed to exceptionally high marine air temperatures, high sea surface temperatures and the El Niño Phenomenon. In April 2024, the average global sea surface temperature (SST) across 60°S–60°N was 21.04°C, the highest recorded value for the month. It is worrying that the Arctic Sea ice extent decreased by 2% in April compared to the same month the previous year. Furthermore, the amount of Antarctic Sea ice shrank by a total of 9% in April, continuing a pattern of significant declines in Antarctic Sea ice that began in 2017. Research studies have previously projected that as the Arctic region becomes seasonally ice free, we will experience higher frequency of strong El Nino cycles.  


Such high sea surface and marine air temperatures have contrasting implications such as droughts and floods in different regions of the world. The recent Brazil floods that affected 850,000 people destroying homes, roads and causing deaths are an example of the repercussions of climate change induced high global temperatures. In April 2024, A greater portion of eastern Spain, the Italian peninsula, the western Balkans, Turkey, Ukraine, southern Russia, and Iceland were drier than usual as was the majority of southern Europe. While, wetter than average conditions were seen over regions of central, eastern and southern North America, across Central Asia, the Persian Gulf countries, easternmost Asia, eastern Australia, and southern Brazil. 


Carlo Buontempo, Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) has cautioned that: “El Niño 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 Niño 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.” 


We need urgent phasing out of fossil fuels to safeguard livelihood and health of the most vulnerable groups of society. 

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