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A leading NASA expert Gavin Schmidt of Goddard Institute for Space Studies issues warning as earth’s temperature continues to rise.

July will likely be Earth’s hottest month in hundreds if not thousands of years, Gavin Schmidt, the director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told reporters on Thursday, as a persistent heatwave baked swaths of the US south.

Schmidt made the announcement during a meeting at Nasa’s Washington headquarters that convened agency climate experts and other leaders, including Nasa administrator Bill Nelson and chief scientist and senior climate adviser Kate Calvin.

The meeting came during a summer that has put the climate crisis on full display. Deadly floods have struck New England. Canadian wildfire smoke has choked US cities. And tens of millions of people have been placed under heat advisories, with areas across the US south and west breaking temperature records.

“We are seeing unprecedented changes all over the world,” Schmidt said. Though the changes may feel shocking, they are “not a surprise” to scientists, he added. “There has been a decade-on-decade increase in temperatures throughout the last four decades.”

Earth saw its hottest June on record, according to Nasa’s global temperature analysis, the agency announced last week.

All this heat, Schmidt said, is “certainly increasing the chances” that 2023 will be the hottest year on record. While his calculations show Earth has a 50% chance of setting that record this year, other models say there is as much as an 80% chance, he said.

Scientists anticipate that 2024 will be even hotter than 2023, as an El Niño weather pattern – known for a tendency to boost global temperatures – will likely peak toward the end of this year.

The last major El Niño, from 2014 to 2016, led to each of those years successively breaking the global temperature record, and 2016 is currently the Earth’s hottest year ever recorded, Schmidt said.

Experts at the meeting raised the alarm about the changes Earth is experiencing and said they are directly linked to greenhouse gas emissions, though they stopped short of naming the source of the majority of those emissions: fossil fuels.

“What we know from science is that human activity and principally greenhouse gas emissions are unavoidably causing the warming that we’re seeing on our planet,” said Calvin. “This is impacting people and ecosystems around the world.”

The agency leaders touted its many climate-focused initiatives, which they said can help governments better mitigate the climate crisis and also prepare for its effects.

“You think of Nasa as a space agency, you think of Nasa as an aeronautical research agency,” said Nelson. “Nasa is also a climate agency.”

Its newest initiative, the Earth Information Center, will make climate data from Nasa’s 25 satellites available to view in real time. An in-person exhibit in the agency’s headquarters opened to the public last week, and next week an online version will launch on Nasa’s website, Nelson said.

Leaders detailed an array of other projects tracking environmental changes, including ones that track air pollution, methane emissions, and tropical cyclones and hurricanes. And they said the agency is aiming to help curb planet-warming pollution as well, for instance by researching lower-carbon forms of air travel.

Some rightwing lawmakers are attempting to curtail funding to climate-related projects, including some of Nasa’s.

Nasa’s earth science division director Karen St Germain said the agency does not merely want to accelerate scientific discovery. It also wants to make sure new research boosts climate preparedness, “ranging from a farmer assessing what to do with a single field, to global leaders weighing decisions impacting the entire world”.

“Our goal is to put scientific information and understanding out in ways that help the public,” she said.

Original source: https://www.theguardian.com