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    HomeScienceTree Rings Reveal Unprecedented Northern Summer Heat in Two Millennia

    Tree Rings Reveal Unprecedented Northern Summer Heat in Two Millennia

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    The summer of 2023 made history as the Northern Hemisphere experienced the most scorching temperatures in over two millennia.

    brown tree log
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    Scientists, utilizing the silent chronicles inscribed within the growth rings of ancient trees, have drawn a long and unprecedented thermal narrative that stretches back well before the advent of modern thermometers.

    icebergs
    Photo by Guillaume Falco on Pexels.com

    Their findings, encapsulating the intensity of global warming, reveal a summer that outstripped the natural climate variability by at least half a degree Celsius.

    butt end of an old log in a wooden building structure
    butt end of an old log in a wooden building structure

    Dendrochronology, the scientific study of tree rings, has offered climate scientists a glimpse into the Earth’s climatic past, a record that withstands the test of centuries.

    According to Professor Ulf Büntgen from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Geography, “When you look at the long sweep of history, you can see just how dramatic recent global warming is. 2023 was an exceptionally hot year, and this trend will continue unless we reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically.” The analysis, published in Nature, underscores the gravity of the current climatic trajectory and the acute need for mitigating actions against greenhouse gas emissions.

    The study reveals that summer temperatures soared to 2.07°C above the average between 1850 and 1900, a timespan often regarded as a pre-industrial baseline for assessing contemporary climate change.

    This establishes that the 1.5°C warming threshold set by the 2015 Paris Agreement has already been surpassed in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Professor Jan Esper, the lead author from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, clarified the compounding factors: “The warming in 2023, caused by greenhouse gases, is additionally amplified by El Niño conditions, so we end up with longer and more severe heat waves and extended periods of drought.”

    The data intimates that the potent combination of anthropogenic climate change and intensifying El Niño episodes promise even hotter summers, with early summer 2024 poised to continue breaking temperature records.

    The annals of tree rings serve as natural archives, chronicling periods of climatic upheaval and calm.

    The researchers have meticulously compared these vegetative vignettes with sparse early instrumental data to construct a robust thermal chronology.

    From the Little Antique Ice Age to the fiery summer of 2023, the rings mark the ebb and flow of the planet’s fevered history.

    The study also determined that the summer of 536 CE, chilled by volcanic aerosols, was 3.93°C cooler than that of 2023.

    While the study’s revelations are robust for the Northern Hemisphere, where the rings were collected, there is an acknowledgment of the difficulty in procuring a global average due to sparse data from the Southern Hemisphere.

    Additionally, the Southern Hemisphere reacts differently to climate shifts, largely owing to its expansive oceans.

    Relevant articles:
    2023 was the hottest summer in 2,000 years, study finds, Phys.org
    The Summer of 2023 Was the Hottest in 2,000 Years, Scientific American
    2023 was the hottest summer in two thousand years, University of Cambridge
    Summer 2023 was hottest in 2,000 years in ‘dramatic’ global warming, study shows, Yahoo News UK

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