Are we in a new, dangerous climate era? Our weird weather suggests it is possible

2023's high temperatures are unexplained

Listen | 19:51

March 2024 was the 10th month in a row to break the global average temperature record, a hot streak that also meant 2023 was the warmest year since records began.

Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions explains much of this. But in 2023, the run of hot weather confounded the most sophisticated climate models.

Global temperatures exceeded their predictions by around 0.2 degrees in that year, even when El Niño, a cyclical weather pattern associated with warmer years, was taken into account.

This small but significant discrepancy may be down to poorly-understood factors (a huge volcanic eruption in the Pacific, Saharan dust, reduced aerosol emissions) - or it could be a sign that the climate has permanently tipped over into a dangerous new state, says climatologist and director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies Gavin Schmidt.


On today’s In the News podcast Schmidt explains what is known about the 2023 weather anomaly - and how we will be able to tell if it was a blip or a troubling new normal.

Presented by Bernice Harrison. Produced by Declan Conlon.

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison is an Irish Times journalist and cohost of In the News podcast