Last year, a study by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UK’s Meteorological Office (Met Office) predicted that there is a 66% likelihood that the annual average near-surface global temperature between 2023 and 2027 will be more than 1.50C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year.

WMO is a specialized agency of the United Nations – responsible for promoting international cooperation in atmospheric science and meteorology. The agency monitors weather, climate, and water resources and provides support to its members in forecasting and disaster mitigation. The organisation is committed to advancing scientific knowledge and improving public safety and well-being through its work. The Meteorological Office, abbreviated as the Met Office, is the United Kingdom’s national weather service.

At the beginning of this year, WMO has officially confirmed that 2023 was the warmest year on record, by a huge margin. The annual average global temperature approached 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels – symbolic because the Paris Agreement on climate change aims to limit the long-term temperature increase (averaged over decades rather than an individual year like 2023) to no more than 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Six leading international datasets used for monitoring global temperatures and consolidated by WMO show that the annual average global temperature was 1.45 ± 0.12 °C above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900) in 2023. Global temperatures in every month between June and December set new monthly records. July and August were the two hottest months on record.

What’s the condition in 2024?

January 2024

According to WMO, “The record-breaking trend seen for much of 2023 has continued in 2024, with January being the hottest January on record. It is the eighth month in a row that is the warmest on record for the respective time of the year.
Sea surface temperatures have been record high for ten consecutive months.”

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service and Japan Meteorological Agency – are the four of the six international datasets that feed into WMO’s State of the climate reports.

According to them, the average monthly surface air temperature was 1.66°C warmer than an estimate of the January average for 1850-1900, the designated pre-industrial reference period. This is according to the ERA5 dataset used by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), which is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Commission.

This does not mean that the world has exceeded the lower-level target of 1.5° Celsius above the pre-industrial era referred to in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The Paris Agreement refers to long-term warming over many years rather than monthly or annual exceedances.

It was 0.70°C above the 1991-2020 average for January and 0.12°C above the temperature of the previous warmest January, in 2020, according to Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Unprecedented Warmth: The data reveals January 2024 as the warmest month on record globally, highlighting a stark deviation from the 30-year average. The map above visualizes the significant temperature anomalies that contribute to this record-breaking warmth, signalling a clear and concerning trend in our planet’s climate trajectory.

Global precipitation was nearly record-high in January, following on the heels of a record-wet December. Large portions of North America, Asia and Australia were wetter than average, whereas much of southern Africa and South America were drier than normal. The El Niño rainfall pattern over the central and western Pacific Ocean weakened, but patterns over Africa and the southern United States remained more typical of El Niño, according to the monthly NOAA report.

El Niño began to weaken in the equatorial Pacific, but marine air temperatures in general remained at an unusually high level, according to Copernicus Climate Change Service.

The average global sea surface temperature for January over 60°S–60°N reached 20.97°C, a record for January, 0.26°C warmer than the previous warmest January (2016), and second highest value for any month in the ERA5 dataset, within 0.01°C of the record from August 2023 (20.98°C).

Since January 31, the daily sea surface temperature for 60°S–60°N has reached new absolute records, surpassing the previous highest values from 23rd and 24th of August 2023.

February 2024

According to NCEI, the February global surface temperature was 1.40°C (2.52°F) above the 20th-century average of 12.1°C (53.8°F), making it the warmest February on record. This was 0.06°C (0.11°F) above the previous record from February 2016. February 2024 marked the 45th-consecutive February (since March 1979) with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th-century average.

February had a record-high monthly global ocean surface temperature for the 11th consecutive month. El Niño conditions that emerged in June 2023 continued into February, and according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center it is likely that El Niño will transition to ENSO-neutral by April-June 2024 (83% chance), with increasing odds of La Niña developing in June-August 2024 (62% chance).

The Northern Hemisphere tied 2016 as the warmest February on record at 1.85°C (3.33°F) above average. The Northern Hemisphere land temperature tied 2020 as the second highest on record while the ocean temperature was again record-high by a wide margin (0.32°C/0.58°F warmer than February 2020). The Arctic region had its third warmest February on record.

February 2024 in the Southern Hemisphere also ranked warmest on record at 0.95°C (1.71°F) above average. The ocean-only temperature for February in the Southern Hemisphere ranked highest on record, while the land-only Southern Hemisphere temperature was 2nd warmest on record. Meanwhile, the Antarctic region had its 54th coolest February, 0.17°C (0.31°F) below average.

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Temperatures were warmer to much-warmer-than-average across the Arctic with the exception of much of Greenland to northern Iceland, and parts of the North Atlantic. Above-average to much-above-average temperatures also covered almost all of North America, most of Western Europe into Western Asia, most of South America, Africa and Australia. Record warm February temperatures affected many parts of Europe, South America, and in the southern half of Africa. As was the case in January, sea surface temperatures were again above average across much of the northern, western, and equatorial Pacific Ocean. Record-warm February temperatures covered much of the north-eastern and tropical Atlantic Ocean as well as large parts of the Indian Ocean. Record-warm temperatures covered approximately 13.8% of the world’s surface this February, which was the highest percentage for February since the start of records in 1951, and 7.4% higher than the previous February record in 1986.

Near-average to cooler-than-average temperatures covered much of central and eastern Russia, Mongolia, large parts of China, some areas in northern Australia, and parts of Antarctica in February. As they were in January, sea surface temperatures were again near to below average over parts of the south-eastern Pacific Ocean, the southern Ocean, and southwestern Indian Ocean as well as over parts of the Gulf of Mexico and northwestern Atlantic Ocean. Zero percent of the world’s surface had a record-cold February.


Thus, there is a big anomaly as far as the temperature across the globe is concerned. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has very recently declared that it is too early to comment on the abnormal rise of the temperature across the country in the coming months, however they expect that the temperatures will be above normal next month (April 2024), and heat wave conditions are likely to hit parts of the country in April and May. Chance of hit of heat waves is more over the central part of the country.

Thus, we need to be very careful to beat the heat in the coming months. The National Disaster Management Authority (Government of India) has suggested a few precautionary measures to minimise the impact during the heat wave and to prevent serious ailment or death because of heat stroke (as given in the above table). Let us try to follow those precautionary measures and stay fit.

By P. K. Chatterjee (PK)

Measures to Minimise the Impact of Heat Wave

  • Avoid going out in the sun, especially between 12.00 noon and 3.00 p.m.
  • Drink sufficient water and as often as possible, even if not thirsty.
  • Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose, and porous cotton clothes. Use protective goggles, umbrella/hat, shoes or chappals while going out in sun.
  • Avoid strenuous activities when the outside temperature is high. Avoid working outside between 12 noon and 3 p.m.
  • While travelling, carry water with you.
  • Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and carbonated soft drinks, which dehydrates the body.
  • Avoid high-protein food and do not eat stale food.
  • If you work outside, use a hat or an umbrella and also use a damp cloth on your head, neck, face and limbs.
  • Do not leave children or pets in parked vehicles.
  • If you feel faint or ill, see a doctor immediately.
  • Use ORS, homemade drinks like lassi, torani (rice water), lemon water, buttermilk, etc., which helps to re-hydrate the body.
  • Keep animals in shades and give them plenty of water to drink.
  • Keep your home cool, use curtains, shutters or sunshade and open windows at night.
  • Use fans, damp clothing and take bath in cold water frequently.

Source: National Disaster Management Authority (Government of India)

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