World

‘Lost winter’ as global temperatures reach new high

Earth broke heat records for the eighth straight month in January, according to the European climate agency.

People watch the sunset during the San Sebastián Street festivities in San Juan, Puerto Rico on January 21 (AP)
Hot January People watch the sunset during the San Sebastián Street festivities in San Juan, Puerto Rico on January 21 (AP) (Alejandro Granadillo/AP)

Earth broke heat records for the eighth straight month in January, according to the European climate agency.

For the first time, the global temperature pushed past the internationally agreed warming threshold for a 12-month period, with February 2023 to January 2024 running 1.52C hotter than pre-industrial levels, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service of the European Space Agency.

It is the highest 12-month global temperature average on record, Copernicus reported, with the globe breaking heat records each month since last June.

January 2024 broke the old record from 2020 for the warmest first month of the year by 0.12C and was 1.66C warmer than the late 1800s, the base for temperatures before the burning of fossil fuels.

The level above normal was lower than the previous six months, according to Copernicus data.

Climate scientists blame a combination of human-caused warming from the burning of fossil fuels and a natural but temporary El Nino warming of parts of the Pacific, saying greenhouse gases have a much bigger role than nature.

A street vendor displays sheets for sale while people sunbathe on the beach in Barcelona, Spain on January 26 (AP)
Hot January A street vendor displays sheets for sale while people sunbathe on the beach in Barcelona, Spain on January 26 (AP) (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

The city of International Falls, Minnesota, on the US-Canada border which bills itself the “icebox of the nation” recorded a high for January when the temperature hit 11.7C and about 70% of state has bare ground, with many places seeing less than 25% of normal snowfall.

The state has dubbed this the “Lost Winter of 2023-24”.

Authorities have rescued dozens of ice anglers from normally solid northern Minnesota lakes after ice floes broke off and carried them along.

The Montgomery National Golf Club, about 45 miles south of Minneapolis, should be blanketed under a thick layer of snow this time of year. Instead, it is doing a booming business.