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Scientists issue alarming forecast following 2023's record-breaking temperatures: 'We don't know yet'

"The interesting and depressing question is what will happen in 2024?"

"The interesting and depressing question is what will happen in 2024?"

Photo Credit: iStock

If you thought 2023 was hot, buckle your seatbelt — scientists say that 2024 could be even worse.

What happened?

In January, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that 2024 has a one-in-three chance of being hotter than 2023, which was the world's warmest year since records began in 1850.

The agency also said that there is a 99% chance that 2024 would rank among the five hottest on record.

According to Reuters, last year's record-breaking temperatures were driven by a warming planet working in tandem with El Niño, a naturally occurring climate pattern that leads to warmer surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean and higher global temperatures, effectively exacerbating the effects of climate change. El Niño is expected to persist until at least April.

"The interesting and depressing question is what will happen in 2024? Will it be warmer than 2023? We don't know yet," Christopher Hewitt, the World Meteorological Organization's head of international climate services, told Reuters.

Why is this news concerning?

Extreme heat already gripped the globe in 2023. Phoenix endured a 31-day streak of record temperatures and hit 110 degrees for 54 days in 2023. Europe suffered its fifth warmest summer on record with heat waves in Portugal, France, and Italy.

Meanwhile, Brazil was hit with a winter heat wave — temperatures reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit in São Paulo during the country's warmest winter in at least 60 years.

Heat waves are no laughing matter. In the U.S., on average, yearly heat-related deaths outnumber hurricane and flood-related fatalities combined, according to the National Weather Service

The Texas Tribune reported that 334 people in the state died from heat in 2023 — more than any other year on record, according to unofficial figures. Heat deaths also surged by 50% in Phoenix, with 579 people losing their lives, according to The Guardian.

What can I do to protect myself from extreme heat?

Some things you can do to stay safe during a heat wave include drinking water, avoiding strenuous exercise, refraining from using fans if it's warmer than 95 degrees Fahrenheit, staying indoors, finding a local cooling center if you lose power or don't have AC, avoiding alcohol and drinks with caffeine, and avoiding the use of your oven/stove as much as possible.

You should also familiarize yourself with the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion and what to do if you or someone you know is suffering from these heat-related illnesses.

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