On February 8, 2024, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) revealed that January 2024 marked the warmest January on record, with the average surface temperature on Earth soaring

to 13.14 degrees Celsius. This milestone not only sets a new record but also marks the first time that global warming has surpassed the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius for an entire year.

Across Europe, temperatures in January diverged from the norm, with the southern regions experiencing above-average warmth while Scandinavian countries saw temperatures below the thirty-year average. Additionally, precipitation patterns varied, with wetter conditions prevailing over much of Europe, contrasting with drier conditions observed in places like Spain.

Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of C3S, emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, "The year 2024 begins with another record-breaking month: not only is it the warmest January on record, but we have just experienced a twelve-month period that was 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial reference period."

Professor Sir Bob Watson, a former chair of the UN's climate body, underscored the alarming consequences of surpassing the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, citing floods, droughts, heatwaves, and wildfires as evidence of the severe impacts of climate change.

Human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, remains the primary driver of the long-term warming trend, leading to the release of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. The urgent need for a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate global warming was emphasized by the Deputy Director of C3S.

C3S's monthly climate bulletins, based on computer-generated analyses incorporating billions of measurements from various sources worldwide, provide crucial insights into observed changes in land and sea surface temperatures, sea ice cover, and hydrological variables. Notably, ocean temperatures continue to rise, with January's global sea surface temperature reaching 20.97 degrees Celsius, just shy of the record set in August 2023.

While the extent of sea ice around the North Pole remains near average, the South Pole's sea ice extent falls below average, indicating ongoing shifts in polar ice dynamics. These findings underscore the pressing need for concerted global action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and address the escalating impacts of climate change. Photo by Global Warming, Wikimedia commons.