2024 Had the Hottest January on Record Following 2023’s Hottest Year on Record

2 minute read

Last month was the hottest January on record, with global temperatures 1.66C above the average during pre-industrial times, according to a monthly report by Europe’s Earth observation agency Copernicus. 

It was the eighth consecutive month with record-high monthly temperatures, according to the report. Global temperatures over the past 12 months were the highest ever recorded — 1.52C above the average between 1850 and 1900.

Read More: A Look at TIME’s Century of Climate Change Coverage

“Rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are the only way to stop global temperatures increasing,” Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said in a statement. Thermometer readings were well above the average of the past three decades in southern Europe, eastern Canada, northwestern Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. 

2023 was the hottest year on record, and experts are already predicting 2024 will beat 2023’s extremely high temperatures. That’s due to a combination of more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and El Niño, a cyclical phenomenon that alters ocean circulation and weather patterns, leading to more heat and drought in many latitudes.

El Niño began to weaken in the equatorial Pacific, where it originates, Copernicus said. But temperatures over the oceans (marine air temperatures) in general remain at an unusually high level. The average global sea surface temperature reached a monthly record in January and daily sea temperatures have kept rising in early February, surpassing previous absolute records reported in August.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com