Nature and Biodiversity

World exceeds 1.5°C warming limit over 12 months, and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week

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Ivalmir Silva searches for water on Puraquequara Lake, which has been affected by drought, in Manaus Brazil, October 6, 2023. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly

Top nature and climate change news: Global warming exceeds critical 1.5C year-long target for first time, and more Image: REUTERS/Bruno Kelly

Johnny Wood
Writer, Forum Agenda
  • This weekly round-up contains key nature and climate news from the past week.
  • Top nature and climate stories: World experiences hottest 12 months; Looming La Niña set to bring rains to Asia and dry Americas; Autonomous drone to survey mountains beneath Antarctica's ice caps.

1. Global warming exceeds critical 1.5°C year-long target for first time

We have just lived through the hottest 12-month period ever recorded, with average temperatures breaching the 1.5°C climate target for the first time.

January 2024 was the hottest global January on record, and the eighth month in succession of record temperature highs.

Average global sea surface temperatures for January 2024 broke another temperature record at 20.97°C, exceeding the previous 2016 record January by 0.26°C.

Daily sea surface temperature 60°S-60°N
Record daily sea surface temperatures for January. Image: Copernicus ECMWF

Breaching the Paris Agreement climate target across an entire year sets an alarming precedent, but urgent action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions can still slow warming, say climate scientists.

2. Looming La Niña set to bring rains to Asia and dry Americas

The La Niña event typically turns Pacific Ocean temperatures unusually cold and disrupts global weather patterns, causing higher precipitation in Australia, Southeast Asia and India, and dryer conditions in some parts of the Americas.

"The vast majority of weather models are pointing towards a weak La Nina in the second half of the year or towards the last quarter. One out of maybe 25 weather models is showing a strong La Niña," Chris Hyde, a meteorologist at US-based company Maxar told Reuters.

Changes in weather patterns can upset global crop yields, depending on the intensity of the event and the time of year it happens.

US climatologists are predicting La Niña to arrive in late summer or shortly after.


3. News in brief: Other top nature and climate stories this week

The circulation of the Atlantic Ocean circulation is a nearing ‘devastating’ tipping point, according to a new study published in Study Advances. Amoc (the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation) is a critical system of ocean currents important to climate regulation and its breakdown could have dramatic impacts.

An autonomous drone plane will survey the mountains beneath Antarctica's ice caps, to help experts from the British Antarctic Survey assess ice melt-rate to forecast the impact of climate change.

Chile is aiming to regrow its National Botanic Gardens, which were destroyed by deadly wildfires that ravaged central parts of the country and killed more than 130 people.

NASA has launched its PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) satellite, which will study microscopic life in water and microscopic particles in the air from hundreds of miles above the planet.

The European Commission has recommended an ambitious 90% reduction in EU net greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. The new EU Commission and Parliament will need to approve the final target following a period of debate, Reuters reports.


How is the World Economic Forum fighting the climate crisis?

Migrating monarch butterfly populations in Mexico have dropped to their second-lowest-ever level during the 2023-2024 wintering season, with year-on-year numbers falling 59% due to extreme heat, drought and climate change, officials said.

Iceland's third volcanic eruption since December in an area south of the capital Reykjavik has caused significant infrastructure damage, leaving residents without hot water during freezing winter temperatures, the country's Prime Minister told public broadcaster RUV.

4. More on the nature and climate crisis on Agenda

Hurricanes are becoming less frequent but more powerful due to the climate crisis, prompting calls for a new "Category 6" to be created to record superstorm wind speeds exceeding 309km/h.

Annual planetary boundary health checks will better inform decision-making and allow leaders to respond more effectively to the impact of climate change. here's how.

Related topics:
Nature and BiodiversityClimate Action
1. Global warming exceeds critical 1.5°C year-long target for first time 2. Looming La Niña set to bring rains to Asia and dry Americas 3. News in brief: Other top nature and climate stories this week4. More on the nature and climate crisis on Agenda

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