It’s Official: 2023 Was the Hottest Year on Record

“The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) reports that 2023 was the hottest year in the instrumental temperature record. That’s in part because global temperatures were boosted by the El Niño phenomenon in which the eastern Pacific Ocean surface temperature periodically surges higher.”

“”Not only is 2023 the warmest year on record, it is also the first year with all days over 1°C warmer than the pre-industrial period. Temperatures during 2023 likely exceed those of any period in at least the last 100,000 years,” noted Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S, in a press release.”

“The satellite temperature series run by climatologists Roy Spencer and John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) also basically concurs, reporting that 2023 is the hottest year in its 45-year record.”

“The C3S report observed that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations reached the highest levels ever recorded, 419 parts per million for carbon dioxide and 1902 parts per billion for methane. UAH’s Christy cautiously concedes that the “background climate-trend is about +0.1 °C per decade and could represent the warming effect of the extra greenhouse gases that are being added to the atmosphere as human development progresses.””

The Florida Barrier Reef’s Last Stand

“unseasonably hot water arrived this summer, meaning those coral colonies had to endure months of extreme water temperatures. A buoy off Florida recorded 101-degree water temperatures this July. When corals are stressed by hot or cold water, they lose their color—a result of expelling algae that provides corals with most of their energy—and eventually die.”

“If the reefs collapsed completely, it would be disastrous for the Florida Keys. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the reefs in Southeast Florida are valued at $8.5 billion and sustain 70,000 full- and part-time jobs. The barrier reef also protects the Keys from hurricanes and major storms by soaking up wave action.”

3 wins and 3 losses at the biggest climate conference ever

“The COP28 agreement for the first time secured language to end the use of fossil fuels, though it’s weak. The agreement calls for “Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.” It also calls for “Phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or just transitions, as soon as possible.”
The accord doesn’t establish a specific timeline, benchmarks, or investment goals, however. Fossil fuel-exporting countries and some developing countries pushed back against such language. Most countries have set goals of zeroing out their greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century, but many are counting on technology fixes like carbon capture to balance out their fossil fuel consumption.”

Greens erupt as fossil fuel ‘phaseout’ is dropped from proposed climate deal

“The prospect of a deal to end fossil fuels faded on Monday in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, when organizers of the U.N. climate summit released a draft proposal that merely suggested reducing them instead.”

“The draft “really doesn’t meet the expectations of this COP in terms of the urgently needed transition to clean sources of energy and the phaseout of fossil fuels,” U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said during a fractious, closed-door meeting late Monday night and early Tuesday, which POLITICO listened to via an unsanctioned feed.

But representatives of other countries, including a bloc that includes China and India, said they would not accept any language proposing either a “phaseout” or “phase-down” of specific energy sources.”

Earth will soon cross a scary climate change threshold. What happens next?

“in 2023, there were several natural forces converging on top of human-caused warming pushing up temperatures around the world. For example, in addition to heating caused by greenhouse gasses from burning fossil fuels, temperature cycles in the Atlantic Ocean and the El Niño pattern in the Pacific Ocean converged in their hot phases this year.
However, such a record-breaking year presents a vivid example of the conditions that may soon become typical in a warmer world, or even on the cooler end of possibilities. And for people concerned about the devastating effects of climate change, it’s ramping up the urgency to keep greenhouse gasses in check.”

Billions of crabs went missing around Alaska. Scientists now know what happened to them

“Billions of snow crabs have disappeared from the ocean around Alaska in recent years, and scientists now say they know why: Warmer ocean temperatures likely caused them to starve to death.
The finding comes just days after the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the snow crab harvest season was canceled for the second year in a row, citing the overwhelming number of crabs missing from the typically frigid, treacherous waters of the Bering Sea.”

“Snow crabs are cold-water species and found overwhelmingly in areas where water temperatures are below 2 degrees Celsius, though they can function in waters up to 12 degrees Celsius, according to the study. Warmer ocean water likely wreaked havoc on the crabs’ metabolism and increased their caloric needs.

The amount of energy crabs needed from food in 2018 — the first year of a two-year marine heat wave in the region — may have been as much as quadrupled compared to the previous year, researchers found. But with the heat disrupting much of the Bering Sea’s food web, snow crabs had a hard time foraging for food and weren’t able to keep up with the caloric demand.”

I visited a beautiful coral reef in 2022. What I saw there this summer shocked me.

“Coral in the Florida Keys, home to the largest reef in the continental US, is dying. The ghostly white appearance of the coral above is due to a phenomenon known as bleaching. Coral, an anemone-like marine animal, gets most of its color and food from a kind of algae that lives within its tissue. When that algae disappears, the coral appears stark white. Bleached corals aren’t dead; they are starving to death.

What happened between those two snapshots is extreme and unrelenting heat. Since July, a record-setting heat wave has been cooking waters in Florida and parts of the Caribbean, at times pushing water temperatures above 100 degrees. This excessive heat causes the relationship between coral and those symbiotic algae to break down; the algae leave the coral, though it’s not entirely clear which initiates the breakup.

The result of this epic marine heat wave is a devastating bleaching event that stretches across the Keys and much of the Caribbean, threatening the future of the region’s coral reefs. That in turn threatens human lives and well-being. These ecosystems — which were already under siege well before this summer — protect coastal communities from storm surge, support fisheries, and drive tourism.”

“Underwater photojournalist Jennifer Adler and I went scuba-diving in the Florida Keys before and after this marine heat wave. What we saw is a stark reminder that climate change is not a distant threat; it’s destroying ecosystems today.”