For the eighth consecutive month in January, the Earth experienced record heat, according to the European climate agency.
This was obvious in the northern United States, where about 1,000 people played golf last month in snow-starved Minneapolis during what the state calls “the lost winter of 2023-24.”
For the first time, global temperatures exceeded the internationally agreed upon warming threshold for a full 12-month period: February 2023 to January 2024 was 2.74 degrees Fahrenheit (1.52 degrees Celsius) warmer than pre-industrial levels, according to Copernicus. Climate Change Service of the European Space Agency. This is the highest 12-month global temperature average on record, Copernicus reported.
The world has broken heat records every month since last June.
January 2024 broke the old record of 2020 as the warmest first month of the year by 0.22 degrees Fahrenheit (0.12 degrees Celsius) and was 3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.66 degrees Celsius) warmer than the late 19th century , the basis of temperatures before the burning of fossil fuels. . Although January was record warm, the above-normal level was lower than the previous six months, according to Copernicus data.
Climate scientists blame a combination of man-made warming from burning fossil fuels and a natural but temporary warming from El Nino in parts of the Pacific, saying greenhouse gases play a much bigger role than nature. . This is the time of year when El Niño warming typically peaks, said Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University.
“This is both disturbing and not disturbing. After all, if you stick your finger in a socket and are surprised, it’s bad news, sure, but what did you expect? Dessler said.
Just because the planet exceeded the 1.5 degree warming threshold for 12 months, that’s not what scientists mean by reaching the 1.5 degree warming limit, said Cornell University climatologist Natalie Mahowald. co-author of a United Nations scientific report on damage greater than 1.5 degrees. The 1.5 degree limit, adopted by the 2015 Paris climate agreement, refers more to 30-year averages.
“These are much more than numbers, ranges and records: they translate into real impacts on our farms, families and communities due to unprecedented heat, changes in growing seasons and rising sea levels,” said the climatologist at the North Carolina State, Kathie Dello.
International Falls, a Minnesota city on the Canadian border that prides itself on calling itself the “nation’s freeze,” recorded its first January high of 50 degrees on Jan. 31, when the temperature reached 53 Fahrenheit (11.7 Celsius). Minneapolis has already set a record for the number of winter days with temperatures in the 50s.
About 70% of Minnesota currently has bare ground, and so far most of the state is receiving less than 25% of normal snowfall.
Authorities rescued dozens of ice fishermen from normally solid lakes in northern Minnesota after ice floes broke off and swept them away. The annual Art Shanty Projects festival on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis in January had to be cut short due to open water and unsafe ice.
Montgomery National Golf Club, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Minneapolis, should be covered under a thick layer of snow this time of year. Instead, it is doing a booming business.
“In January we had about a thousand golfers. If we had just one golfer, it would have been a record,” said owner Greg McKush. “After today, we will have had about a thousand golfers in February, which is unheard of.”
McKush said he reopened two Saturdays ago and estimates he could stay open all winter if temperatures continue to reach at least 40 degrees.
It looks like the streets are trying to green up, he said, and much of the frost has come off the ground. Most golfers tell you that conditions are “better than expected.”
In Wisconsin, the nation’s fourth-largest maple syrup producer, mild winter weather prompted many farms in the state’s northern and central regions to begin cutting down their trees in mid-January, up to two months earlier than normal. depending on the area, said Theresa Baroun, executive director of the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association.
“There is a wide range of the state that they are already exploiting and cooking syrup. It’s very unusual. “This is one of the most abnormal weather patterns we have seen for the start of the maple season,” he said Wednesday. “For maples to work, it needs to be very cold at night and colder than freezing during the day. And this weather has been perfect for maple trees to run.”
Baroun, whose family has about 1,200 maples at their Maple Sweet Dairy in De Pere, Wis., just south of Green Bay, said the farm started cooking sap this week and that’s the earliest his family can remember since production began in 1964.
The February sturgeon season on Michigan’s Black Lake was canceled for the first time due to a lack of ice for safe fishing.
At Isle Royal National Park, an island in Lake Superior between Michigan, Minnesota and Canada, scientists couldn’t conduct their annual count of wolves and moose because the ice was so weak they couldn’t land ski planes to get there.
One of the strangest consequences has been the early appearance of ticks. The Minnesota Metropolitan Mosquito Control District reported its first deer tick of 2024 on Monday, posting a creepy photo on social media of a tick in a jar against the backdrop of Feb. 5 on a calendar. District officials said they haven’t found mosquito larvae yet, but it’s not for lack of searching.